Helping Hull Homeless (part one)

While we may be an international marketing and communications agency, at RED we also believe in having strong roots in the local community and contributing something back.

Over the past six months, RED has volunteered digital and design services to Hull Homeless Community Project (HHCP).

On its seventh anniversary, we caught up with founder, Andrew Smith, to learn more about the charity. Later, in part two, we find out about how our partnership has helped.

Congratulations on being established seven years! What were your main drivers for setting up HHCP?

I was pensioned out of the armed forces after being injured. Through a set of circumstances and bad luck, I went from having everything to having nothing in quite a short space of time.

I became very socially isolated and felt I had lost my purpose. Unlike many people who find themselves in a homeless situation, I had a support network around me to help me through it.

Setting up the charity gave me a focus and it felt like I was doing something really worthwhile.

How have you seen HHCP develop over the past seven years?

Originally, it started as just food and clothes collections for hostels and shelters, before going on to the streets to meet rough sleepers.

I started to learn about homelessness in all of its forms. The stereotype of it just being someone on the streets couldn’t be further from the truth. We have diversified into different types of homelessness even I hadn’t considered.

Our criteria now, is to help anyone who is at risk of homelessness, threatened by homelessness, or currently homeless. If we can reach more people before they reach crisis point, then the results are just outstanding.

We spend more time talking with clients than anything else. We become their support network and it’s amazing what can be achieved through a bit of trust and confidence.

Buying a cup of tea or coffee, or stopping for five minutes to have a chat – treating people as equals – can go a long way towards someone feeling like they have value and something to work towards.

How do you get the message out there about HHCP?

Predominantly, through our dedicated volunteers and partnerships with businesses. With RED it was a partnership that happened straight away. However, many businesses have so much on the agenda that social responsibilites can be forgotten.

Once I sit down with a group of people, tell them my story, it becomes relatable and they realise anyone can be affected by homelessness.

They become more compassionate towards people in that situation, which they share with their networks and friends.

We currently have a great mix of volunteers and a personality for everybody we work with. Seeing the pride in our volunteers, when they realise they’ve made a difference is huge and something I enjoy the most.

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