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Christmas Message from Stonepillow Chief Executive

Christmas Message from Stonepillow Chief Executive

Festive Greetings to our wonderful supporters

I thought it would be good to reflect on all of the great work which has taken place over the last 12 months and also look to the future a little for 2019.

Over the past year, there have been some extremely positive changes in the way we deliver services to our clients. The renovation and opening of the new 16-bed Bognor Regis Hostel was a monumental achievement for Stonepillow. We also changed our hostels from a night shelter model to 24-hour services to support the most vulnerable of our clients in both Chichester and Bognor and this enabled us to support an extra 12 people.

We continue to work with vulnerable people, who are sometimes difficult to reach, through our Hubs in Chichester and Bognor Regis. Not only do they provide food, showers, clothes and laundry facilities but also a variety of support which gets people off the streets and into accommodation.

Our Recovery Service is a model of good practice enabling those with addiction to get the support they need to abstain and move on. Supported Accommodation continues to provide a move on service which gives our service users time to build confidence, self-reliance and is an essential stepping stone to independent living.

Our social enterprises, Restore in Chichester and Bognor, have exceeded their sales targets bringing in vital funds to support our services. They also give our clients the opportunity to gain new skills in a practical learning environment to help them get back into education, training and employment.

I would like to thank all of our dedicated volunteers who provide a range of support such as art therapy, counselling, event support, cooking in our hostels or helping in our charity shops. I would also like to say a, huge thank you to all who have raised funds for us over the last year. To everyone who took part in the sponsored skydive back in April, in particular ‘Mrs M’ who was so brave! To those who took part in our Big Sleep Out in October and to everyone who sponsored them – helping us to raise £17,000! To Martyn Bell, Mayor of Chichester, who adopted us as one of his chosen charities for the year. To Justin and Malcom for completing a gruelling 731-mile bike ride from John O’Groats to Chichester. And to all those who donated or raised funds for Stonepillow through their own personal events.

Being new to the area, I have been totally bowled over by the support Stonepillow receives from the local community to ensure we can continue to provide the support for the ever-growing number of people who are homeless or vulnerably housed and in need.

As we look forward to 2019, we are faced with challenges and opportunities. West Sussex County Council are cutting funding to Homelessness services across West Sussex and the Local Assistance Network. These services provide a much-needed safety net to those in both housing and financial crisis and will affect the most vulnerable people in our communities. West Sussex will lose a range of services which have both prevented and given relief to homelessness for many years.

As Chair of the West Sussex Coalition of Providers, I need to thank all the service users, staff and partner organisations who have supported us in trying to get West Sussex County Council to rethink their proposals. At present, they are planning to make the cuts by the end of September 2019, but we will keep on lobbying and trying to mitigate these cuts.

In 2019, it will be 30 years since Stonepillow was founded (as St Richard of Christian Care Association) and we will be launching our strategy in March which will set out priorities and actions for the next 5 years. This will include working together with our partners and looking at how we will continue to deliver and develop our services. We will continue to raise awareness of homelessness throughout the year, we currently have a photo exhibition displayed at Chichester Cathedral – please go and take a look!

I would like to thank the Stonepillow members, trustees and patrons for their continued commitment and support in keeping this very important charity promoted and on track. A big thank you to all the Head Office staff who have worked tirelessly to keep the momentum going and support me in my first 8 months in the role of Chief Executive at Stonepillow.

My final thank you also goes to our clients who engage with volunteering, undertake presentations, raise funds for us and appear in photos and videos promoting how the services have supported them to make positive changes in their lives. Thank you for sharing your stories.

It has been an amazing 8 months for me. The solidarity of staff, volunteers, clients, partners, communities and other stakeholders make Stonepillow an inspirational organisation and one which will continue to provide the essential safety net for the most vulnerable in Chichester, Bognor and Littlehampton.

I hope you all enjoy the festive season and have a very Happy New Year.

Hilary Bartle
Chief Executive, Stonepillow