Saturday 10th October marks World Homeless Day, a globally supported day that aims to highlight and draw attention to those who experience homelessness, whilst encouraging support and understanding on a local level through community engagement and involvement.

As a town, Guildford is committed to supporting and assisting those individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, with numerous organisations, charities and local government bodies all working hard to help prevent homelessness at the earliest possible stage and thus stem its rise.

Real Change Guildford, which launched in summer 2019, is a community initiative that aims to bring all these agencies together, so collaboratively they can make a difference to the lives of rough sleepers on our streets. Co-designed and co-produced in partnership with individuals who themselves have experienced homelessness first-hand, along with key partner organisations such as Number Five HUB, Catalyst, Riverside, Guildford Borough Council and Experience Guildford to name just a few, Real Change Guildford is Guildford’s response to provide practical solutions to help the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless make steps to exit their life on the streets.

Funded by the very generous donations given by local businesses and the public, Real Change Guildford offers valuable funds and solutions to help empower individuals in their time of need to make positive changes to their lives. From funding a training course or rental deposit on a home, accessing income and welfare entitlement, to providing a haircut or a new suit for that life-changing interview, Real Change identifies individuals in the borough that can benefit from their help and offers them a long-term, sustainable solution to help them get off the streets and back to life.

Over the last 12 months, an expanding number of businesses, individuals and organisations have got behind Real Change Guildford, supporting its efforts through successful fundraising initiatives and awareness-building campaigns. Key highlights over the last 12-months include:

  • A staggering £25,000 donated to the charity from over 60 individuals and organisations.
  • Real Change Guildford has actively ended homelessness for 20 people across the borough, finding them a safe and sustainable place to live and putting them back on the path to a life of prospects.
  • Real Change Guildford has processed 35 grants totalling over £18,000 of support, all designed to help rough sleepers move away from homelessness and into new homes, employment and fulfilling lives.
  • Over £14,000 has been granted to support individuals gain access to accommodation, through the allocation of rent deposits or rents in advance.
  • Grants allocated range from the smallest contribution of just £35 for a copy of an individual’s birth certificate to secure employment to the largest contribution of £1,284 for a rental deposit and rent advance.

Commenting on the ongoing work of Real Change Guildford, Ketan Patel, regional operations manager at Riverside, Guildford, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to transform lives and revitalise neighbourhoods says;

“This has been a tremendous year for Real Change Guildford and we wholeheartedly thank all those who have so generously donated to the campaign as well as all the partner organisations that help us deliver these life-changing initiatives. As a platform, Real Change Guildford has enabled us all to make a true and sustainable difference to the lives of the homeless in our area. From the seemingly small levels of assistance such as helping gain the necessary documents or attire to gain employment, to the larger-scale projects of assisting in getting a safe and secure roof over someone’s head, each activity has the end goal of reducing and abating the cycle of rough sleeping and empowering individuals to take the necessary steps to make positive changes to their lives.

“2020 has bought new challenges to us all, and it goes without saying that this also includes those that live on our streets. This uncertainty continues as we approach winter as does the prospect of more individuals falling upon hardship. Through Real Change Guildford we can all do our bit to help make a difference and I urge residents, businesses and visitors to our town to continue to donate to our cause, so we can continue to positively help those most in need across our community.”

For more information on Real Change Guildford and how you can get involved to make a difference, plus to learn more about the full range of partner organisations that are committed to helping the homeless in Guildford, visit www.realchangeguildford.co.uk