There was much success to celebrate as in its first year, the Inspiring Change programme supported an incredible 94 individuals at risk of homelessness in Exeter through a combination of uplifting group activities, workshop learning and one-to-one support sessions designed to improve access to education, training and employment.
The celebration saw around 14 organisations, local councils and support services across the South-West, celebrating BCHA Learn’s Inspiring Change project. Hosted by Exeter Community Centre, everyone was able to directly hear from BCHA customers that have been supported through Inspiring Change as well as take part in discussions on ways to work together to support people experiencing homelessness in Exeter.
Working with over 40 local partners and services, together they enabled 25% of participants to start volunteering or enter employment and make lasting positive changes to their lives.
Charities and support organisations delivered excellent feedback on the project, impressed by the outcomes and passion of the BCHA Learn Team for turning people’s lives around.
The BCHA-organised event also proved valuable to the course participants, sharing their stories to break down stigma and encourage more organisations to come together to give people experiencing homelessness hope for a different future.
Sharing their journey through the project, Nathan said: "I have experienced homelessness for a while, before being accommodated at BCHA’s Gabriel house. Since engaging with the Inspiring Change project, I’ve been referred to support for substance misuse, accessed help to get benefits and received budgeting advice through 1:1 sessions with Alison.
“I have achieved many accredited courses and training to now become a peer mentor. I honestly do not think I would be here today without the support and constant encouragement to have the belief in myself that I can achieve my goals.”
Alison Fewins, Inspiring Change Co-ordinator, said: “The Inspiring Change event was an opportunity to share with the services, partners and all those that attended, the inclusive work that has been delivered across Exeter for many customers experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance misuse.
“We are thrilled with the growth of our course participants, their feedback, the stories they shared at our event and their commitment to exploring their current goals and challenges with us to identify pathways into education, training and life skills through well-being and meaningful activities.”
Val Jefferies, Project Manager, described the event as “a privilege to be part of to showcase our successes.”
She said: “Alison Fewins has worked tirelessly to ensure that participants are given the best opportunities and choices to embark on their journey to living more independently.
“Inspiring Change has forged so many fruitful relationships with local partners and businesses, improving lives and facilitating impactful integration and partnership working. We are looking forward to seeing what year two brings and exploring new avenues of funding and sponsorship to enable this project to continue beyond the funding life of 2025.”
Devon Communities Foundation and Devon NHS Trust were so moved by the event, that they are now discussing collaboration and funding routes with BCHA Learn to ensure this project can continue changing lives and supporting people who have experienced homelessness in Exeter.
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