Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Transforming People's Lives

Last week, I visited Transform, a Walton-based charity that provides housing and support in Elmbridge, Runnymede and beyond to the homeless and vulnerable.
Transform has been going for over 40 years - formerly known as the Surrey Community Development Trust - and helps people who have hit rock bottom, because of family issues, drug or alcohol problems, debt and unemployment or mental health issues. As well as providing accommodation, Transform aims to help its clients transition into independent living by addressing their underlying problems. It is a gem of a charity, and I am always impressed by the dedicated team led by Tanya Sanctuary at their Hersham Road headquarters.
CEO Paul Mitchell and Chair Elizabeth Kennedy talked me through the challenges they face: reduced grants because of austerity, rising rents linked to inflation and a shortage of available land supply for affordable housing. Nonetheless, through fund-raising and creative thinking, Transform continues to perform impressively. At any one time, they provide supported housing to 550 people, plus support services to 170 others. That support can range from how to deal with debts to life skills like cooking. As well as hearing from the management, I talked to some clients - as pictured below - and it is clear that, despite all the pressures, Transform continues to provide essential support to those who need it most.



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