It never ceases to amaze me that in everyday life, many companies fail to provide a decent service to others with the amount of money and resources they have at their fingertips and yet there are organisations such as Cheltenham Open Door which in the selfless, dedicated and heartfelt mission of its volunteers, takes service to a whole new inspirational level.
When I took part in the UK Money Bloggers Reverse Advent Calendar campaign last year, it really hit home how big the issue of poverty is in the UK and how truly amazing the people are, who work tirelessly day and night to provide support, comfort and resources to those who need it most.
In a world very much driven by what we have and where we live, the reality is that there is another far sadder world where people live without very much and with nowhere to live. I find it very hard to believe that in a so called first world country in the 21st century that we still have people on the streets and relying on food banks and handouts from others. In fact it’s nothing less than a social disgrace that this is the case.
Quite remarkably, Cheltenham Open Door has been providing a service to help relieve poverty, hardship, social and emotional distress for over 25 years. One of its founders, Flip Thornett – Roston, noticed that homeless people would gather around Royal Well so decided to offer them sandwiches and flasks. She soon realized that this was a significant issue in the area so searched out premises in order to provide much needed support. What initially started as Sunday breakfast and a Christmas shelter in Grosvenor Hall has now grown into a charity, which offers a whole range of all year round services and support for vulnerable, disadvantaged and lonely people at its current premises in Grosvenor Street where it has been since 1998.
Last week I popped in to chat with Charity Coordinator Sara Reader to find out more about the work of the charity and the invaluable service provided to others. In all honesty, the experience just blew me away.
The atmosphere at Cheltenham Open Door is one of acute respect, support, friendliness and warmth with those who use the services referred to in all instances as very welcome guests. I was no exception and couldn’t have felt more at home in the company of Sara and Rosie, the charity’s chef.
A whole range of services are available to those who visit. These include breakfast clubs, laundry, showers, clothing, packed lunches, food parcels, access to outreach workers, a 24 hour Christmas shelter and referrals and signposting. Street kits are provided to those who cannot be housed immediately and regular sandwich drops are carried outside Marks and Spencer’s in Cheltenham High Street. There’s even an annual summer outing for the guests, which gives them a brief respite from the chaos and uncertainty many of them face on a daily basis.
Other than a generous subsidy from the council towards the rent of the premises at 39 Grosvenor Street, Cheltenham, the charity is reliant entirely on the goodwill and donations of others and is admirably supported by a whole range of local businesses.
The work Sara, Rosie, Dennis and their team of dedicated volunteers do on a daily basis is nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait to get involved! For someone who spends their whole life in marigolds protecting one’s lovely red nails, I’m all set to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in to whatever I can do to help. This is the 21st century not the 19th. Life should not be like this so let’s do something about it.