Falkirk Homeless Project will continue good work through new fund

You know the kind of times you are living in when a charity which helps homeless people is itself made homeless.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 26th April 2019, 11:03 am
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 11:05 am

That is exactly what happened to the long established Falkirk Homeless Project when rising costs forced it to leave its premises in York Arcade, Grangemouth earlier this year.

For over two decades the project, which became a registered charity and social enterprise in 1998, has been helping homeless people resettle in the Falkirk area, providing them with support and vital items, including furniture, for their new properties.

The organisation was ahead of a nationwide recycling trend which is now becoming commonplace, in that it was making good use of items people would have normally sent off to the dump.

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FHP director Jim Nicol said: “When the project started it collected furniture people didn’t want and passed it on to people who needed it. We had contracts with Falkirk Council and Zero Waste Scotland after we opened the shop in York Arcade.

“We have had tremendous assistance from the community and thank all those who have supported and helped us over the years. However, escalating costs have hampered our ability to direct the funding towards the resettlement of homeless families – which was really the original purpose for which FHP was founded.”

The closure of the shop unit is not the end of the FHP story though – just the beginning of a new chapter and the dawn of the Falkirk Homeless Project Fund.

FHP wants to continue to provide support towards homeless families being rehoused by establishing a fund to provide some assistance for them at the move in date.

The charitable company has first hand experience of the day one issues that continue to hinder the smooth transition from homelessness into a new house and is looking to help in that area.

It will do this by providing a free starter pack of essential household items – a concept for which the Falkirk Homeless Project was originally established to provide.

Details will be made available to the local agencies working with homeless people within Falkirk District and FHP anticipates there will be a simple referral application process for people to go through to secure their starter pack.

It is also the intention to look for support from providers of these household elements to ensure the value and standards of items provided in the packs are of the best quality.

Jim said: “We have a significant amount of money in the bank – as long as we can continue to help homeless people then the FHP can carry on as an organisation. When FHP was set up it was supported by churches and we still have tremendous support from the congregations and the community.

“We are also going to look at crowd funding to support our start up pack initiative. Local businesses and superstores could provide the items required to make up the starter packs and pack them, then we could deliver them to people being resettled.

“The welfare system these days takes time and we can help people get set up in their new accommodation as soon as possible with our starter packs. You could be talking about around 200 starter packs a year to assist people.”

The FHP has certainly made a positive contribution to the community in the last few years, providing materials to help families settle in new homes to help them, in turn, make positive contributions to the community.

This knock on effect could continue under the Falkirk Homeless Project Fund, which Jim believes could be up and running in around eight weeks.

The vital work of the FHP could not continue without the commitment and dedication of staff and volunteers and in its new phase of operation it will also be looking for people who can assist in the actual delivery of the starter packs to the recipients.

Jim said: “We’re also looking for public spirited people who want to get involved in the Falkirk Homeless Project Fund and the starter packs – they don’t need to have experience, just be willing to help.”

If you think you can contribute to the FHP you can e-mail [email protected] for more information.