On Monday 27th September, we welcomed 9 new participants to the House for our 19th Employment Preparation Programme – beginning their journey back into lasting, good work.
Our Programme and Employment Manager Brian Beaton gives us an insight into the first 2 weeks of Programme and we hear from participant Massi – who shares with us journey to the House.
The first day of programme is always exciting and we always make sure we say a big thank you to all the participants for attending, as it can be a difficult challenge to push forward and show up, especially after the last few years of Covid. You may not know, but we are DWP recognised – meaning that we are a work programme that individuals can start on whilst still receiving their benefits, making the transition back into employment more secure for our participants.
On the first day we always go to Bar Bruno on Wardour Street for lunch. It’s a great opportunity for our participants to lay the groundwork for lasting bonds, getting to know each other in an informal setting.
During the first 2 weeks, we provide interactive workshops facilitated by the marvellous Jennie Carr, who engages the participants in discussion-based sessions on topics such as, why are you here? Why do you want to work? Providing a more in-depth view into commitment and expectations surrounding programme. Participants are also asked to create a positive visualisation of their future. This exercise allows participants to identify what they want from the path ahead and build the blocks to put this in motion. On our last programme, one of our participants visualised becoming a Commis Chef. On completing programme, he gained a position as a Kitchen Porter and was promoted to Commis Chef within just 3 months.
We have also been lucky to welcome back Amy Leaning, who helped create the programme many years ago. Amy returned to give sessions on consumer service and hospitality, giving participants key context which will help them on their City and Guilds certification journey.
Other highlights include: getting the chance to meet and chat with the House staff and a special yoga class in the chapel, facilitated by our excellent member Payal Vasudeva – a really special way to complete the first milestones.
We look forward to the weeks to come, sharing more time with these lovely participants and watching their confidence grow.
Massi’s Journey to the House
The train comes and I don’t know its destination.
I was standing on a deserted platform and had lost notion of time – if not for the song that kept echoing in my head, a broken iteration “…take me somewhere I can breathe, I’ve got so much to see…”
Breathing – wasn’t that a natural process? Mechanically happening, until it was decided otherwise, because every breath inhaled was a painful expression of my loneliness, of how detached and unworthy my life had become, blown into smoke by heavy chemicals.
“Home is where your heart is”, until it was decided otherwise because every beat pumped was so heavily polluted that it burned its way up to an inevitable halt.
And then it was dark – homeless at heart – with no tapping red shoes to bring me back, apart from my swollen limbs engorged and bruised with pounded blood.
A year ago, I was spiralling downward into the rabbit hole unaware of one of the darkest journeys that would have left a mark as sore as the compulsive scratching of a lacerated, infected wound.
I was never thought it would have been possible to go back to what life used to be, or at least to the memory I had of the person I once was.
Even a hurried glimpse of it had a stranger feeling, as if it was someone else’s life, a captured image of a film sounding from a TV set, left on during the night.
I repelled myself for so long I could not recognize my own reflection creeping on the window, as I hid myself from the world behind a curtain.
Days were passing by, rolling into weeks and lengthy months of disastrous attempts to restore the wreckage of what was left of me.
Until the feeble thread I was hanging from snapped, and my life was changed again.
I was standing on the platform; it was my birthday and I knew where I was headed.
I was wearing my bowtie, a present for my celebration; the time was just right – I was not going to be late.
The song that was playing on my headphones kept me company, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way!”
The train comes and I know its destination.
At the House of Saint Barnabas everyone knows my name, and my name isn’t just a sound but a smile, the smile that awes and lights up the air of my fellows and impresses me with so much joy and tenderness.
The House oozes with fascinating vitality, permeated by a coat of sunshine. Such energy characterizes each of one of the amazing people that run and work at the House, that give it its purpose, carrying hope with them like treasures that enrich all of us.
I feel ever so blessed that I can participate in this dance to which rhythms play in a constant flow, changing lives and ultimately the world around us.
Through the cracks of the broken souls the light can once again shine, and like in the art of Kintsugi, we can reveal the breakage: the value, the faults and mend with the thread of gold.
You brought me somewhere I can finally breathe and now I have so much to give –