One of the many things we love about Deptford is the real sense of community spirit in the area – and local charity Deptford Reach is the epitome of this. Deptford Reach, a crisis intervention centre for adults has been in the Deptford area for over 30 years and the relentless hard work of the team has seen the lives of many local people enriched and changed for the better.
Anthology has been proud to support this wonderful initiative, with members of the team volunteering to help give something back to the community. Dee Saunde is the team leader of this charity who provided us with further insight in to the work it does, and its future…
Deptford Reach has done amazing work in the Lewisham area – can you tell us more about how the centre started out and how many people you have helped over the years?
The service originally started as a soup kitchen in 1979, founded by a group of local clergymen when a local hostel closed and created a vacuum in the area. At that time, we were called the ‘Deptford Churches Crypt Club’ as we were based in the crypt of St Pauls Church.
As time went on, it was found that people needed more than just food – they also needed advice, guidance and support, and to continue to provide those services we needed a bigger space. In 2001, in recognition of our work, Lewisham Council gifted us our current building on Speedwell Street in Deptford which allowed us to expand our services. We have continually evolved to respond to the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community and continue to work in this way.
What kind of support does Deptford Reach offer to local people in the area?
Deptford Reach helps people rebuild lives that have been affected by homelessness, mental illness, drug or alcohol misuse, and social exclusion. We offer advice, support, education, training and practical help in a variety of formats. We run supportive groups and activities, which include art therapy, gardening therapy, mental health support groups and a women's group. We have showers and a laundry service which support those who are not only homeless, but those who are in accommodation yet experiencing difficulties managing their utility bills. Our onsite kitchen provides subsidised breakfasts and lunches. All our services and activities exist to ensure we are providing a holistic service to those in need.
How are you able to help vulnerable people back on to their feet and back in to employment?
Our digital skills sessions help people to increase their knowledge of computers and the internet, and our accredited courses support those wanting to improve their literacy and numeracy. From there, we further support routes into employment through CV writing, job searches, sourcing training and education opportunities. We offer skills into employment, including providing volunteering opportunities for our clients, as well as training those who are ready for peer mentoring. Our aim is to address misconceptions about working, enhance confidence and aspirations to find work, and help develop the skills to stay and succeed in work.
What is your background? Have you always wanted to work for charities?
I have a totally unrelated background – originating from the world of IT! I always knew I wanted to work with vulnerable people, and had volunteered with various organisations whenever I could, but felt that I wanted to do more. I did a bit of research and Deptford Reach stood out to me that supported a lot of people with a diverse range of services. I began volunteering 1 day a week on reception where, in between calling Bingo numbers and other reception duties, I got to know the client group and fell in love with the centre and charity work. I shadowed staff and attended training and a year later I was successfully recruited as a Project Worker. The rest, as they say, is history...
As a registered charity, how heavily do you rely on volunteers and donations to continue your work?
With a small team of 6, we really couldn't do what we do without the regular support of our amazing volunteers and vital cash donations that keep the centre running. Between 70-100 people access the centre each day, so we rely heavily on volunteers in order for us to continue to run our daily operations. Our volunteers take the time to befriend our clients and offer a listening ear to those who may not have the opportunity to talk in depth to anyone outside of the centre.
In this tough economic climate, it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure funding for the kind of services we run and many organisations are closing down due to funding cuts. As the only open access day centre in the borough, we are seeing a rise in clients accessing our services and are running at full capacity. Our resources are in more demand than ever and we require more funding to continue to deliver and develop services to meet the changing needs of the local community.
What is your favourite thing about working in Deptford?
Working in Deptford means I am surrounded by diversity on a day to day basis! From the people who access our centre, to the Deptford locals and those from far and wide visiting or selling their goods on the local market, Deptford is a wonderful medley that highlights the best of what London is about.
What do you foresee for Deptford Reach over the next twelve months?
With more funding cuts and challenging times ahead, it is difficult to plan long-term. With changes to welfare benefits systems, and with most services moving online from booking hospital appointments, it will become more difficult for some clients who are already facing hardship. This will mean more training will be required for clients, which in turn means more staff and volunteers will be needed to fulfil the services and as such, more funding will be required.
That said, we will continue to work with our current and prospective clients in the Deptford area, to continuing enriching lives and helping them make positive steps towards changing their lives.
We are also currently working on our forward plan, which is to move away from our current building and find a suitable building that we can renovate in the local area to accommodate our developing services & activities!
Anthology is looking forward to providing more support to Deptford Reach - if you would like to find out more about getting involved then contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8692 6548. You can also keep updated on Facebook and Twitter.