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Henry's Blogspot

As I write this, it is literally 12 years to the day that I began working as a debt counsellor for Christians Against Poverty.  In my first year we helped 36 families or individuals with debt related issues, today we are helping hundreds of families every year with debt, food, furniture and more.  We are seeing some great success stories too, like Janet who is featured in our annual review[1] and became debt free this year!  Or Mark & Liz who also became debt free this year; to me this is why we do it and despite the difficulties of fundraising and ensuring we have enough food in to help those struggling, these stories just make it so worthwhile!
 
Despite our successes, we’re not content to sit back when there are people struggling with poverty related issues, who cannot come in to see us and it doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a lack of income, a change of benefit or debt, we want to help. To enable us to do this we have launched a new project called ‘Reach into the Community’. We are thrilled to have Tina who is looking after the villages into South Cambs and Jo who is looking after Haverhill and the surrounding villages, bringing Reach resources out into the community.
 
We have many challenges ahead, not least Universal Credit[2] – the Governments new way of supporting low income families and some of the most vulnerable in our community.  As of 18th October Haverhill will become a full UC area meaning that those claiming it for the first time will have to wait up to 6 weeks (longer sometimes) before they receive any money.  Claimants will be offered a short term benefit advance, but sadly we are expecting an increased demand on our foodbank than usual and therefore we have been preparing ourselves for this.  We are quite relieved that it Harvest time where we receive lots of food from schools and churches and are hoping for a good ‘harvest’ to replenish our depleted stocks.  If you would like to know our current needs in terms of food, these can be found on our website - alternatively sign up to receive our weekly email by contacting Corrine at info@reachhaverhill.org.uk
 
Other challenges include our surround our finances.  We are so pleased to receive the support of a number of private individuals and companies who support us regularly via our regular giving scheme.  This is a great way to support us and helps us become more sustainable going forward and helps us with our budgeting.  If this something that you feel that you too are able to do, please visit our website for more information.
 
Lastly, I just want to say a big thank you for helping us support local people struggling with poverty related issues in and around Haverhill.  It’s been an amazing 12 years and we know there are many more people who need our help, however you help us, whether it’s food, finance or volunteering we really couldn’t do it without you.
 
[1] http://www.reachhaverhill.org.uk/Groups/295808/Annual_Review.aspx
[2] https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

 


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Maxine's Blog

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Maxine, I have lived in Haverhill for the last nine years having moved from Peterborough. I am married and have two gorgeous children.  For the last fifteen years I have dedicated my life to my family doing a variety of part-time jobs that have fitted around school. Last year I returned to college, achieving a diploma which has enabled me to secure a placement at Anglia Ruskin University studying BA (Hons) in Social Policy.  I am super excited to be starting my new position at Reach Community Projects.

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Tell us about your new position at Reach?

My new position at Reach Community Projects is Resource Centre Supervisor.  This is a temporary three month contract whilst Ann takes a well deserved break.  This involves liaising with the warehouse to ensure that we have adequate supplies at the Centre to meet the needs of the local community, ensuring the Centre is fully staffed and general administration duties.

 

Are you looking forward to starting your new position at Reach?

I am super excited to be starting my new position at Reach Community Projects.  I started volunteering here in January 2017 one afternoon a week as an advisor and this is a great opportunity for me to continue the hard work and dedication that Ann has put into this wonderful charity helping the local community.

 

What are you looking to gain from Reach?

During my time with Reach Community Projects I hope to gain greater insight into the daily struggles that our local community deal with every day.  I hope that as I gain experience I will be able to make a difference to the community.  I am hoping that my experiences here will assist with my future studies and also that my studies will be of future use to Reach Community Projects.

 


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Ann’s Blogspot

 

What have you got planned for your 3 month leave?

I’m going to be away for 3 months travelling around the UK coastline in a motorhome. Something I wouldn’t have considered in the past. However, after a roller coaster of a ride dealing with various personal issues over the last few years, I’ve come to recognise that I need time away. Time to spend with a new husband, time to find myself again, time with God and nature and time to relax.
AnnWe’re really excited that we’ll be visiting parts of England, Scotland & Wales that we’ve never seen before.I’m going to be away for 3 months travelling around the UK coastline in a motorhome. Something I wouldn’t have considered in the past. However, after a roller coaster of a ride dealing with various personal issues over the last few years, I’ve come to recognise that I need time away. Time to spend with a new husband, time to find myself again, time with God and nature and time to relax. We’re really excited that we’ll be visiting parts of England, Scotland & Wales that we’ve never seen before.I’m going to be away for 3 months travelling around the UK coastline in a motorhome. Something I wouldn’t have considered in the past. However, after a roller coaster of a ride dealing with various personal issues over the last few years, I’ve come to recognise that I need time away. Time to spend with a new husband, time to find myself again, time with God and nature and time to relax. We’re really excited that we’ll be visiting parts of England, Scotland & Wales that we’ve never seen before.

 

What has been your highlights/most memorable moments at Reach so far?

There have been many memorable moments over the years so it’s difficult to choose one. Recently achieving our new charitable status was definitely a highlight after all the years since we launched the Foodbank. And back in May 2014 our first ever fundraising event, such a lot of work went into that but it was a brilliant evening. There have been a number of laughs too-one in particular with my great friend and colleague Henry when we were filming for our Ragbag collection; Henry inside the collection bin and me with an umbrella handle sneaking up behind him, so, so funny and well worth watching and still makes me laugh.

 

What have you enjoyed the most?

I feel extremely privileged to have been involved in so many people’s lives, after all people is what Reach is all about. Working here gives me great satisfaction and certainly something to get up for each day even with the responsibilities that come with it. I’m always up for a challenge and three day food collections are definitely hard work. The reward far outweighs the hard work though and being able to support a client, often under very difficult circumstances is something I feel called to do. To be able to make a significant difference is definitely worth all the work involved. A number of my colleagues have been a great influence and sadly there have been a few we’ve lost along the way and I’m just so glad they’ve been part of my story.

 

What will you miss the most while you are away?

I will definitely miss my Reach friends and colleagues whilst we’re away. It’s a real joy to be part of such a fantastic team, many of whom are volunteers giving up their time to help others. I will miss those cups of tea that so often just appear just when they’re most needed. Since 2008 Reach has been a massive part of my life so initially it’s going to be hard to just take this time away.

 

What are you looking forward to in the future?

With regard to the future, I’m so looking forward to all that God has in store for me and Chris. As far as Reach goes, we will continue to press forward in achieving what we set out to do, relieving poverty and related issues in our community. If we can change just one life, that’s one life that we’ve changed. I’m really looking forward to the journey ahead and feel a satisfaction that even if I didn’t achieve much, I at least tried.

 


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Lesley’s Blogspot 

In the time that you have worked with Reach, what have been your highlights?

I have been with Reach for over 5 years so there are many highlights - I started volunteering for Reach as part of the meet and greet team. After two years of meet and greet I then became a general adviser, and in 2014 I got involved in debt work.

Lesley Ashford Smithsmall

 

I suppose my highlights are seeing clients with success stories – clients that have come in for help and they have finally been lifted out of poverty and are in a better position with not just their financial situation but with their well-being as well.

 

I love it when I reach a point with my clients where they remember who I am and refer to me by name and follow it with a smile.  This is when I know I have gained their trust and know that we will be making progress with their case.

 

On a personal level, I have grown in faith and have a closer relationship with God.  I have learnt to look at myself, learnt how the cogs work in running a charity, learnt how to work within a team and have made some amazing friends that I hope I can keep in touch with.

 

What have you enjoyed the most?

1. I have loved the experience of working with the community and with people who are in distress - It saddens and angers me when I hear stories of injustice and unfairness.  When I see a client who is crying in utter despair, I get fired up and will always try to get to the root of the problem; this is when the phone calling and the letter writing to creditors, housing, enforcement agencies etc. start and I won’t stop unless the client asks me to stop.  I would often engage the team as well to help with the case.
I thank God for the provision he has given me, to be strong, to have wisdom and courage to forge ahead for our clients.  I simply want to fight for injustice in people’s lives and to share God’s love.

2. Managing the debt project and watching it grow.  I love it when I close a case because it means the clients are either debt free or are able to manage their finance due to re-educating them with spending and budgeting. It is an amazing feeling to see the relief on their faces when I tell them the good news.

 

What will you miss?

Nothing hahahahaha – No, I will miss the friends I have made and River of Life Community Church.
Workwise, I will miss working with the public.  It is not just about advising but more about befriending and letting them know that we are here for them, loving them, being firm, fair and strong for them.  I will miss the laughter’s that I have had with the team and with the clients.

 

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I am looking forward to a new start in my new hometown! I have learnt many skills while at Reach so I would like to make use of them.
To be back in the community, helping to restore dignity and to revive hope, to lift people out of poverty in every way, be it financially, well-being, health or spiritually. (I sound like Henry now hahaha) However, I would like to take a few months break and use the time to source what is out there and where God wants to plant me.

 


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