Where then is my hope— who can see any hope for me? Job 17.15

Edward Burne-Jones, ‘Hope

As almost everyone reading this probably knows,Hope’s Day centre is threatened with eviction, and without another suitable building, a great reduction in services or even possible closure.

This would be a disaster for the desperate people who use our services, and who rely upon us.

The landlords who propose to do this have told us they are motivated largely by financial reasons, and aim to replace the centre with accommodation. This won’t serve anything like the number of people we help. We aren’t against there being more accomodation available, but does it have to be at the expense of Hope?

The campaign we have inspired to save Hope has been overwhelming to us, because we have seen who is true and who is false, made thousands of new friends, and rediscovered old ones. The faith community, in particular, have been extraordinary, with their fantastic, loving and faithful support for what we do. Thank you – and to all the others, old, young, poor, insignificant like me, and sometimes influential, who support us.

We have been asking, very patiently and simply for the decison to be revoked. Revoked because it will do so much harm to so many people. I sometimes think that despite the clear awareness of what we do shown by 12500 online and over a 1000 hard copy signers, some people just don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, what we do. There are people who still think that all we do is hand out some free cups of tea and little more, judging us crudely by the number of people we got housing for, as though that reductive outcome, completely beyond our control, was all we should be judged against.

We do care about, and strongly advocate for housing, for the 100 or so rough sleepers and hundreds more who are badly housed; but we also care about a range of other outcomes. Homelessness prevented, for example, given we work with people post and pre-homeless, for whom homelessness in the future presents an ongoing risk. We also care about people’s mental health problems, their physical health, their drugs, alcohol and gambling addictions, their offending, their unemployment and lack of employability, their confidence and their self-esteem, all of which we seek to improve.

None of these complex problems can be overcome simply or quickly. The timespans we work across can be quick, but are often longer. For some, probably nearly all,  the outcome will never be a well paid job in a home they have bought. Most will try to survive in a world where work, perhaps in 3 simultaneous jobs, will still not even leave enough to pay the rent and leave anything spare. A world in which stress and anxiety and lack of hope will stalk them throughout their lives, because quite simply the world is often unfair and cruel, as it appeared to Job, as in the Bible reference above.

Hope offers hope. We offer it in every conversation we have with a service user that tries to encourage and raise the spirits; we offer it through comprehensive health screening involving NCC public health partners; through a service user fashion show, through ukelele lessons, through training in customer care or how to work in catering and tool repair, through english language skills, through art groups, through mental health support or addiction meetings, film shows, cookery lessons, through care for their dog, through co-therapy with their parents or partners on addictions, through food aid, through gardening for therapy, through hot meals, showers and clothes….

This is Hope: a place of change, a place of care. It may appear slow, but the damage our users face has been going on for a long time, sometimes since birth. This takes time to unravel.

It’s Christmas time. We will be open, as usual on Christmas day to feed 150 people.

The time of giving. The time of compassion and hope. The time when the coming of a new baby promises hope, new life, and  a future. We hope that Midland Heart will change their minds, relent on their decision to issue notice, and let us carry on offering hope, in Hope. Let’s Hope so. (Is that enough Hopes?).