Cornwall homeless charity Harbour Housing was able to completely revolutionise the support offered to its residents after a grant from the Henry Smith Foundation.

The charity based in St Austell provides support and accommodation for people across Cornwall experiencing homelessness who also have complex needs and multiple disadvantages.

Residents are supported to develop their independence through a tailored support package which covers health, money management and sustaining a tenancy.

What was previously lacking from this support package was a focus on wellbeing and positive engagement, including the development of personal interests and integration within the community.

Staff at Harbour felt that these elements were important for residents’ development so applied for funding from the Henry Smith Foundation to incorporate volunteering and activities into the support package.

Henry Smith was founded in 1628 and is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK and funding is provided to projects which the foundation believes will create opportunities and life chances, increase resilience and empower communities.

The application process for Harbour took six months and included a thorough examination of the proposed project and its outcomes, as well as a site visit to Cosgarne Hall from a regional representative.

Only about 20% of applicants are successful in receiving money for their project, making Harbour’s successful application a testament to the foundation’s belief in the need for the project and its ability to bring about positive outcomes.

The grant paid for staff members for three years who would be responsible for coordinating volunteering and activities within the organisation, with those three years coming to an end this December.

The staff that are funded by the grant recruit and co-ordinate community volunteers, organise a wide range of activities and apply for small funding streams which pay for professional visits, supplies for courses and external trips and visits.

There is now a packed calendar every month full of different things for residents to get involved in, including cooking, art groups, adventure days out, history projects and community action days.

As a part of their tenancy, all residents now engage in positive pursuits outside of their key work sessions which can range from volunteering to feed animals on the onsite smallholding, to doing some colouring in art group or participating in a community litter pick.

Kate Moss, business manager at Harbour, who applied for the grant and has been running the project said:

“The grant from Henry Smith has totally transformed the charity and really enabled us to embed the empowerment of individuals within our service.

“It reinforces a strength-based perspective where we can celebrate and nurture the unique skills and abilities of each resident and offer a more rounded experience.

“The funding allowed us to pilot and develop this side of the organisation to a stage where it is now an integral part of what we do and sustained by our team of external volunteers.

“It has made such a difference to residents and really helped to prepare them for life after they move on into their own private accommodation.”