Media release - issued 02 Jan 2018

Profile of North Lane Lodge, in Aldershot

"The most rewarding job I have ever had" - that is how a member of staff of North Lane Lodge in Aldershot describes his average day.

Toby Molineaux, who works at the Lodge, which opened in February this year, and offers nine beds for rough sleepers, continued: "Watching the transition of men who have been living hard lives on the street to enabling them to get to where they want to be - living independent lives, free of addiction, is simply wonderful.

"You see them grow, and it is extremely rewarding. Every day is different, with nine different personalities living together in a fairly confined space."

Toby agreed to talk about his job to provide an insight into the work of North Lane Lodge, which is one of the three charities benefitting from the money raised from the Positive Change campaign.

The campaign, recently launched by Rushmoor Borough Council and Safer North Hampshire*, is encouraging people to donate to local charities rather than giving loose change to people committing antisocial behaviour by begging on the street.

Councillor Ken Muschamp, Deputy Leader of Rushmoor Borough Council and the chairman of Safer North Hampshire, said: "We are really focused on helping people to achieve long-term change in their lives. That is why anyone wanting to help is urged to donate into one of the Positive Change collecting tins around the town, rather than giving cash to people who beg.

 "Although there are currently very few homeless people in Aldershot and Farnborough, the number of people begging is increasing. Some individuals who may previously have been associated with rough sleeping, may continue to socialise, drink and sometimes commit antisocial behaviour such as begging, which leads to complaints.

"All of the money collected during the six week long campaign will be split between three excellent Aldershot-based charities - Step-by-Step, The Vine Centre, and the Society of St James, which runs North Lane Lodge."

The Lodge has helped 13 people, many with complex drug, alcohol and mental health problems, to leave the street and move on with their lives since it opened its doors in February this year.

Toby said: "People can arrive through various means, but usually they are referred by the Home Group Outreach Team, which goes out daily to speak to people on the streets of Aldershot and Farnborough. If someone is identified as a rough sleeper, they are assessed and then referred to us via a multi-agency panel meeting, where we discuss who is already living at the Lodge, and if anyone is ready to move into permanent accommodation.

"The Lodge is men-only, and the rooms, kitchen and lounge area are quite small so it is vital that all the people living here can get along harmoniously. If we have a space, it is offered to the individual, along with a viewing of our accommodation, and they are then given a key and they can move in."

Residents are appointed a key-worker out of the three staff working on-site, and the key-worker assists with any aspects of life with which they need help, from form-filling, court attendance or custody rights to children, to mental health or addiction issues.

There is no specified time for people to stay at the Lodge - so far, there have been three positive move-ons, with residents securing jobs and private accommodation.

Residents are expected and encouraged to participate in a cleaning rota to ensure rooms and communal areas remain tidy, and there are various activities held, from arts and crafts to health appointments, which people can attend if they wish.

Most residents are expected to sit down for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, with the Society of St James providing a small present for each resident to open in the community room.

Toby Molineaux said: "We will use any money raised from the campaign to provide more opportunities for our residents to help them to turn their lives around."

Councillor Keith Dibble, ward councillor for North Town, Aldershot, said: "The North Lane Lodge has been a great success and is supporting those in most need. The facility is very well managed by the Society of St James and the concerns raised by local residents before the opening have been overcome by the excellent on site team."

  • If anyone sees someone sleeping rough, they can report it on the StreetLink website, which will come directly through to the council's housing team.

Collecting tins are available at the following locations around Aldershot and Farnborough:

  • Princes Hall, Princes Way, Aldershot

  • Rushmoor Borough Council offices, Farnborough Road, Farnborough

  • West End Centre, Queens Road, Aldershot

  • Goldstation Jewellers, Victoria Road, Aldershot

  • NatWest, Wellington Street, Aldershot

  • Bridges Estate Agents, High Street, Aldershot

  • Shree Lucky Jewellers, Victoria Road, Aldershot

For more information on the campaign, visit our Positive Change campaign page or the Safer North Hampshire website.

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