Written by Jodie Geddes
I’ve had a busy couple of months focusing on strengthening partnerships with other local agencies. It’s led me to reflect on how these relationships underpin the work that AMAT does, and how that positively impacts the community and reinforced to me how different experiences, skills and alternative ways of problem solving and collaborative working make a team stronger.
AMAT’s team is a great example of this diversity of skills and experience and includes a dedicated Board of Trustees who volunteer their time freely and passionately. Adding to our Board is always a priority for me, so I’m really pleased that in the last month we’ve welcomed two new Board members: Kirstine Bourne and former Resident, Rod Kirwan.
When Rod came to live at AMAT 7 years ago, he began volunteering almost immediately and quickly became a big part of our community. He still volunteers and engages with various activities and events. Rod is a prime example of AMAT working at its best: he has been supported to progress through our service, address the reasons that he became homeless and is now a tenant. It was important to me that we have someone with lived experience on the Board. Rod’s understanding and perspective of our service is going to be unique and different to the rest of the Board. Rod should be – as we are – extremely proud of his journey and we’re thrilled he will now influence the service AMAT provides in such a significant way.
Kirstine Bourne has also joined the Board. Kirstine currently works for a mental health provision in London. She is passionate about building on our existing co-production working, enhancing our social media profiles and furthering our partnership development, which really aligns with the direction AMAT is travelling in.
A developing partnership has been with the Greenwich University project ‘STARRT’, which is a support group for people with physical or mental health issues, and for those with learning disabilities or difficulties. We were approached by two student representatives of STAART, Shona and Zoe, who wanted to celebrate their graduation by completing a sponsored climb of Mount Snowdon to raise funds for AMAT. They saw a clear comparison between the challenges of homelessness (finding and maintaining secure accommodation) and completing a higher education course with a disability – which for them ‘felt like climbing a mountain’. To date, Shona and Zoe and their teammates have raised more than £2k which will be used to support homeless adults to engage in activities and events that reduce social isolation.
As well as AMAT benefitting from the experience of our partners and stakeholders – we know how important it is for us to share our expertise, so when we were approached by Medway Local Authority to join their new mentoring scheme, we jumped at the chance to support a newer local charity. I’ve been working with Amber from MSA , who work with the rough sleeper community and those in need. They provide soup kitchens and outreach. They have a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how our partnership develops.
I had the pleasure of visiting SATEDA’s newly formed volunteer choir, SATEDA are a local domestic abuse charity working within Kent, they are also a service partner of our “one stop shop” community project 411 HUB. As a member of AMAT’s choir Alive and Singing, I understand firsthand all the benefits of singing collectively, how this can be an effective way for participants to deal with trauma, increase self-esteem, improve wellbeing, help forge positive relationships, and have fun in a safe and encouraging environment. Two of their choir gave an impromptu performance and they were amazing. We have invited them to join our choir at one of our rehearsals, and possibly work together on future projects.
AMAT was founded in August 1997 and as I’ve worked here for almost 17 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes. AMAT has continued to go from strength to strength over that time and working ‘step by step together’ with our Residents and in collaboration with other local services and partner agencies has shown time and time again to result in the best outcomes for our Residents – the fastest way up the mountain! Supporting homeless adults to gain the skills they need to live independent and fulfilling lives is always at the heart of AMAT. We know that it takes a multitude of skills and knowledge to support a homeless adult to tackle the issues that resulted in them becoming homeless and to ensure that they feel ready to return to independent living. I’m already thinking ahead to the 25th anniversary next year and how we can mark and celebrate this achievement. Watch this space…
Speak to you all in a couple of months.