Up until April 2018, all Vineyard Compassion projects operated from different venues scattered across a 10-acre site. The Foodbank operated out of an old portacabin; the Clothing Bank operated out of an agricultural shed; the Link project was in a different warehouse, the Debt centre was in a wooden cabin. The functionality and quality of these environments were not ideal and far from ‘excellent’, needing significant improvement to promote the dignity of clients. The most pressing issue was that the projects were located far from each other. This made a significant difference to clients. As they were encouraged to access further support, engaging in each new venue created an additional hurdle to overcome due to their feelings of vulnerability and the need to explain their situation again to unfamiliar people.
For example, a client engaged with the Foodbank out of desperation and in a vulnerable state. Vineyard Compassion completed an initial assessment during which it uncovered the complex range of issues which contributed to the crisis need. It signposted the client to support avenues within the charity and outside it to assist in tackling these problems. It was noted that often, even though clients wanted to engage in further programmes, they were fearful, lacking the confidence to attend another new venue and go over their story again with different staff. All their emotional energy had been spent.
In response to these needs Vineyard Compassion launched a vision to bring all the projects under one roof through the construction of a purpose-built facility we call the Hope Centre. This removes the barrier to continued engagement. Clients will only have to enter ONE DOOR and go over their story ONCE. They could develop trust and confidence in the one facility which becomes familiar and place of hope. The Compassion Support team will connect with all new clients at the initial contact point. Clients will then be introduced to the key people delivering all programmes. Staff will assist clients as they engage in a variety of projects, through a tailor-made support plan.
Since 2015, over £850,000 of capital funding has been raised by volunteers and the local community to make this dream a reality. The remainder of funding came from various charitable trusts. Building commenced in May 2017 and the Hope Centre was completed in April 2018 as an annex to the existing Causeway Coast Vineyard church facility.
Vineyard Compassion is fully committed to this ‘gateway’ project as it opens the door to all the other projects within the charity. It is confident that the Hope Centre will enable many more people to access integrated and holistic support that effectively addresses poverty issues and sees people move from ‘crisis to full potential’. This will bring lasting benefit for generations of families in the local community.