Whilst working on the Soupervan
project I realised that I wanted to do more. To me helping people who were experiencing homelessness in the form of support and suitable accommodation felt like the best way to go. It seemed obvious, but I was struggling to see how I could help. Then I met Sam.
I worked with Sam on a couple of art exhibitions, donating my time to collate and curate the most incredible artwork and photography, created by people with lived experience of homelessness. We became friends and even signed up to walk a marathon together - more about that another day! During training walks I would (and still do) quiz Sam about what she was up to and my frustration about not doing enough, really knowing enough about the struggles people face or finding the right project I wanted to support. Then there was a eureka moment...
Sam works for Signposts
over in Luton. They provide temporary accommodation, with support for people who are unable to obtain appropriate accommodation to meet their needs. Signposts were working towards opening Guildford Hall - which you can read a little about (and donate to if you are able and would like to) here
. This accommodation has the capacity to house up to 45 rough sleepers, supporting people to get their lives back on track so they can take the next step on their journey - this was the project I wanted to help. It felt right and after learning more about the charity, I knew it was a project I wanted to support with On The Map UK.
"Our values at Signposts are very important to us, and run through the whole organisation. We ask all our clients to try and live these values as well as our staff. They are: Togetherness, Happiness, Inspiration, Innovation, Respect."
She also explained that each client is provided with a welcome pack when they enter one of their projects, which includes toiletries and bedding. This is where I saw a way to start helping.... so if you purchase a Rainbow Map
by the end of the year, I will donate £5 towards the toiletries welcome pack.
Why toiletries? Well, at the beginning of my journey with Soupervan, myself and my teammate Max (the mastermind of the upcycled caravan project) were having a chat with a gentleman. We asked if he could have anything at all in the world, what would that be? He said ‘a washing tablet so I can wash my shirt in a sink, a pen, as you can always find paper & a bar of soap, because I like to keep myself clean, just because I don’t have a home, doesn’t mean I’m dirty!’
That one conversation changed us! We turned up with all three items on our next outing. We take so much for granted in this materialistic world, but sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest impact. He was so grateful and I felt a little silly, I think we often think too big... He really did make a mark on my tiny world!