St Martins are a charity in Norwich and the surrounding area, who work to help get rough sleepers a roof over their head. They work to offer a hand up, a boost trust in other people and aim to nurture self-esteem as well as empowering individuals to make positive choices. To many, they are a stepping stone to rebuilding lives. St Martins work alongside other voluntary organisations, housing associations, and community and church groups to raise awareness of homelessness as one of the principal contributors to social exclusion. St Martins are a progressive and developing charity, adjusting to the needs of homeless people that are often very complex.
One aspect of St Martins work is ‘Under 1 Roof’, which is a learning and development centre owned and run by St Martins. The role of Under 1 Roof is to offer support for vulnerable adults who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. They support these individuals by helping them to develop skills that will help them to live independently within the community.
Under 1 Roof opened in 2010, with the aim to provide service users with means to access the workplace. However, over time this has changed to include reintegration into the community of service users after a period of institution. An important part of the work at Under 1 Roof is the principle of co-production; members inform how the centre is run and what events activities are on offer there.
Under 1 Roof’s main emphasis is on developing the skills that will allow service users to find work and live independently, however, informal learning to build confidence and self-esteem, which inspire people to go onto further training, is also an integral part of Under 1 Roof’s work.
Different sessions offered by Under 1 Roof includes:
- The tenancy programme
- Basic IT skills
- Programmes to support people to overcome substance misuse issues
- Music groups
- Fitness sessions ranging from Tai chi to Boxercise
- Programme to maximise Mental Health
There is also the opportunity for service users looking for employment to use the IT suite as well as access support with applications, cover letters, CVs and finding training for qualifications needed to compete in the job market. They is also a volunteer programme and work placement opportunities, these are invaluable to those who have been out of work for a long period of time and therefore have no recent work experience and/or references.