The SCC visit to the Open Door, St Albans, was an eye opening experience for the twelve Form 3 students who went down after school on Thursday, 11th May. We were greeted by Sarah, the volunteer coordinator. We saw the communal room, one of the bedrooms, the garden, the office and the kitchen. We were also able to ask any questions we had about homelessness and the work that Open Door do.
We saw one man that arrived to use the drop-in showering facilities at the centre, which is a new addition and is very useful. The kitchen was stacked full of kind donations, for the service users who stay there as well as any other homeless person who is hungry. These donations are from regular people and also, which we all found really surprising, from lots of companies such Ocado and Nando's ,who donate food to the centre. When people stay there, they can stay for up to 28 days at a time, but then must leave for 28 days before returning. While they are at the shelter they are provided support to help them with any of the issues that they may have.
One fact that we learnt ,which was surprising, is that the homeless have to pay £1 a night to stay there. I thought that this seemed odd, but it is to teach them independence. Another surprising but impressive fact is that there are many support groups that visit the shelter to help with issues that the homeless people have, as well as hypnotists and personal trainers, going in weekly. There are 12 people staying there per night, but for a few hours a day, an unlimited amount of people can come for the lunchtime meal.
To conclude, I, along with all my peers on the trip found it to be an incredibly eye opening, but also a thought provoking trip, that some people have absolutely nowhere else to turn so must rely on this facility. It was a very humbling experience.
We would like to thank Mr O'Brien and Ms Brooks for taking us, and Sarah and all of the Open Door team for showing us around their incredible centre.
Harry Preston-Jones Form 3, McClancy/Andre