Langley House Trust’s homeless project in Torquay has been helping to save the lives of homeless people.
The Leonard Stocks Centre is a purpose-built building which has been operating for over 10 years. It works with homeless men and women in Torquay and the surrounding area, helping them to secure housing and employment.
Langley co-runs the Centre in partnership with Shekinah, another charity which supports people with experience of mental health issues, addictions and homelessness.
Angela is a previous resident of the Leonard Stocks Centre. She first encountered the Leonard Stocks Centre in 2016. At the time she was homeless and moving from night shelter to night shelter, with no place to call home.
Speaking about her experience, Angela said:
I was in a really bad way, you know I was dying. If I [hadn’t have come] to the Centre, I wouldn’t be talking to you now.
Angela recalled times while she was sleeping rough when people would assault her. On one occasion, the assault was so serious it threatened her life. As long as she was on the streets she feared for her safety.
Life for Angela changed when she got involved with the Leonard Stocks Centre. Instead of moving around different one-off night shelters, she had a place to call home. Angela said,
It gave me a sense of belonging. At the time I had no contact with family, I had no friends, I had no-one. The only people I had were the staff at the hostel… [but] the staff were absolutely fantastic to me. Everyone helped me so much, I can’t thank them enough. It just changed my life – I’m just so happy now.
Whilst at the Centre, Angela undertook sessions on budgeting and worked with a counsellor. She has now moved into her own accommodation but she has been connected with a social worker and a counsellor through the Centre who is helping with her ongoing recovery.
For Angela, the Leonard Stocks Centre was a place of refuge where she could escape from living rough on the streets. The estimated life expectancy of those sleeping rough stands at only 42 years, compared to the UK life expectancy of 79.6 years.
Danny Crowley, the Centre manager said:
Angela had a long-standing and entrenched homeless problem. She had spent many years on the streets and had a number of complex issues that had led to her sleeping rough. The change since she has been here is incredible. She is now volunteering alongside members of the local community, working with other homeless people. Moreover, she’s living in her own settled accommodation.
The regular counselling sessions have been helping her to keep moving forward. She says that she has replaced negative relationships with positive ones and has a renewed sense of peace and joy.
Despite all its successes, there has been some opposition to the Centre. Danny Crowley said that some people in the town blame the centre for people begging in the streets.
People see one thing, but actually that’s not what’s going on. When they come to the Centre they see a whole different side of it.
The Leonard Stocks Centre supports hundreds of homeless men and women every year. Many of them leave transformed and ready to face the challenges of life. The centre continues to be a vital lifeline in reducing homelessness in Torbay. Nick Pannell, the Chairman of the Centre’s supporter’s association commented that, “thousands of lives have been touched by its work.”
Speaking about the ongoing mission of the Leonard Stocks Centre for the future, Danny said:
Angela is just one piece of the massive puzzle we are working on in Torquay.