York Road Project Success

York Road Project provides emergency and longer term accommodation for those experiencing homelessness. The day centre is called The Prop and offers a wide range of services and activities to clients. A "prop" supports something and the York Road Project is proud to offer strong support to anyone who is facing or currently experiencing homelessness in Woking.

Surrey Adult Learning (SAL) and York Road Project recently started to work in partnership to offer interesting courses to clients. The new wood carving print course proved to be a great success. Some clients even chose to submit their work to the Surrey Adult Learning End of Year Exhibition and received personal commendation from Paul Hoffman and warm praise from Councillor Mary Lewis at the private view event.

SAL asked the learners to tell us a little bit about themselves and their lives

J – I became homeless about a year ago after my parents kicked me out. Although I have lived in England all my life, it wasn't until I became homeless that I found out that my parents didn't register me for British Citizenship – I moved to the UK as a baby. Because of this, I am not entitled to benefits or housing or anything. I came to the York Road Project so they could help me prove I have always been here so I can get some help, it's taking a while and I'm still living on sofas or the streets but I should get some benefits soon which would be amazing.

D – I was a full time carer for my mother, but when she felt that she no longer required my help I had to leave.

Anon 1 – I became homeless because of substance misuse, I was with my partner for 14 years; realising the relationship was coming to an end, I started using crack cocaine and heroin. Leaving the family home, I lost my job as a self-employed ground worker due to not being able to get up in the morning as I sunk into a bout of depression. I became homeless, sleeping in car parks and tents; this is where I have been for the last two years, in and out of hostels since then.

Anon 2 – I think its to do with the credit crunch which is why I became homeless in the first place because I was sleeping in a store room and now that door is locked up. It started 2/3 years ago and now I can't sleep in the store room, I have to sleep on the streets since 2016. I am trying to get benefits but it's hard because of my mental health, I get anxious and panic attacks so it's hard to work with so much pressure. The York Road Project are trying to help me get support but I'm fighting against myself. How do I win against myself?

SAL asked the learners how they found out about the woodcut printmaking course

One client said, "It was on the activities list when I came in that day." Another pair got lucky, "Yeah, we just turned up at the right time on the right day!"

We wanted to know what the woodcut printmaking course was like

The clients really enjoyed the course. Some people discovered their artistic side; others found it a soothing release, whilst some clients found healing in the activity. For example, one client struggles with ADHD and the course helped him focus.

Another positive outcome was the involvement of the York Road Project clients in the Surrey Adult Learning End of Year Exhibition, moreover, as they won a prize!

SAL was interested to find out the inspiration for your woodcut printmaking

J – "Me! I did a picture of my head and it was brilliant. I also did this massive eyeball as well which worked out really well."

D – "I'm a fisherman and love the outdoors so I wanted to do something that makes me happy and that is fish."

Anon 1 – "....my daughter, it's always my daughter."

G – "I chose nature and Celtic heritage because it speaks to me."

We were interested to know if the York Road Project clients felt a sense of pride and achievement

They agreed it was great to learn something new and learn altogether as a group with skilled tutor Steve Glynn.

"Yeah, it was good to be able to do something that people will see; it was cool to show people that there is more to us than just homeless people."

Surrey Adult Learning exhibited some of the work at the End of Year Exhibition and we were interested to get some feedback

One learner said "Proud! Really proud, it's something to show off about. It's also nice that I can put it on Facebook so my friends can see it."

Importantly, there was another client who overcame fear and felt the sweet feeling of success, "Nervous, I don't want people to laugh at my work because I'm not that good but also proud that it got chosen to go up so it must be good, right? I hope it's good, I want my support worker to see it."

At the end of our interview we asked the York Road Project clients if they had any plans for the future, we got some thought provoking responses from these special learners:

"I just want to get somewhere safe to live, I hate being on the streets, its hard and humiliating and people look at you like you are scum."

"I want to have a family and go back to work, it's really hard to work if you don't have an address or somewhere to keep your stuff."

"I want to be happy...."

Surrey Adult Learning is very proud to support the York Road Project and we wish every client a bright future.