FEATURE: New campaign by charity supporting men to stay clean

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 July 2019

Volunteers and trustees from Andrew House and the Changing Lives Charity.

Volunteers and trustees from Andrew House and the Changing Lives Charity.

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A charity which helps men stay clean and get their lives back on track has been re-branded and is launching a new campaign.

Andrew House provides accommodation for 11 men in a supportive, stimulating and safe environment and enables them to make life-changing development.

The charity, in Victoria Road, looks to help move men onto independent living as they overcome substance misuse problems.

Established as Re:Mission with Alabaré in 2015, it has now been renamed the Changing Lives Charity at the beginning of 2019.

Andrew House uses a holistic approach to ensure men's physical, mental and psychological needs are met.

Andrew House underwent a restoration recently.Andrew House underwent a restoration recently.

Clients work with staff to create a person-centred plan helping them to take responsibility for their own journey.

They are allowed to stay for up to two years and it accepts referrals from treatment centres as well as self-referrals.

Changing Lives - which has shops in Weston and Clevedon - owns the house and recently spent more than £100,000 restoring the external structure.

Service manager, Tina O'Brien, said: "We support them with cooking, cleaning, mental health issues, encouraging them to go to meetings and to link with drug and alcohol support services.

"Some only stay for a few months, others for the full two years. In the past year we have had 17 come through our doors.

"We support ex-residents as well with form filling in, CVs, mortgage help and so on. There are two full-time members of staff and two relief members of staff.

"We also have a volunteer chaplain who is available for staff members and he runs a life recovery group which residents can take part in.

"We do house activities like barbecues, badminton games once a week, it is just about finding fun things to do.

The Volunteer Plus logo.The Volunteer Plus logo.

"For some guys who have had a lifetime of addiction, they don't know what they enjoy and it is about finding that fun elsewhere.

"We have helped a number of our residents get back in touch with their families or link up with social services to gain access to their kids."

Men staying at Andrew House are encouraged to stay dry through random tests and are encouraged to move on should they fail.

Tina said: "We want to keep the house safe and if we let them stay then it sets the seed in their head that they can continue to do it and so can the next person.

"If they clean themselves up then we always offer a second chance.

"If they wanted to come back we would work with them to take them back if they are working towards their recovery."

Charity chairman, David Tomlinson, said: "It is about rebuilding their social connections and family links and some people take it for granted to have those links.

"We are a Christian charity, we are motivated by our faith in helping people in this way and the church community in Clevedon is very welcoming to guys from Andrew House who may want to come in and explore."

The latest step for the Changing Lives Charity is the launch of Volunteer Plus.

The programme is suitable for clients and people in the wider community to create a structured and personalised volunteer programme for those who face barriers to paid employment due to addiction issues and poor education.

The programme lasts up to 12 months and is for 15 hours a week and it helps with education, training and employment.

Programme manager Sarah Luckwell said: "They need that stepping stone of experience to move on into paid employment.

"We recently visited Weston College for discussions about pre-employment training and my colleague and I were really positive about how much there is to help anyone improve their education and their skills.

"We are offering each participant a mentor for life. It is someone not from within Changing Lives who meets with them regularly and sees how they are doing.

"It is more about how they are doing in life which will be a long-term thing - they will still meet with their mentor and provide that ongoing support.

"We have identified roles within the Changing Lives shops and warehouse which will be rotated around customer service, deliveries and up-cycling pre-loved furniture and house clearances."

For more information on the charity's work, call 01275 870707 or email ant.bertenshaw@changinglives.org.uk

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