Over the last 12 months, we’ve worked hard to support our participants and graduates remotely in ways that offer opportunities to learn, be inspired and connect with others. To help us do this, we’ve collaborated with a network of other London-based support agencies to deliver Wellbeing Wednesdays. The network, founded in 2020, includes the House of St Barnabas, Crisis, Beyond Food and The Hotel School. We’ve worked closely to support each other and the people we work with through the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the support agency network, we launched WELLBEING WEDNESDAYS (skills to make you feel good) – five weeks of online sessions, to help people feel good, pick up and share skills, gain confidence and motivation and to connect with others during lockdown. All aimed at supporting people who have been affected by homelessness and with an interest in hospitality.

The five ways to wellbeing are, CONNECT, LEARN, BE ACTIVE, GIVE and TAKE NOTICE.  The series has been facilitated by all four of the support agencies in the network as well as one session facilitated by LinkedIn, showing people how to get the most from the social network aimed at professionals.  Wellbeing Wednesdays were open to participants past and present from all of the support agency network, and we saw around 30 people attend each session.

Sessions included ‘The Art of Self-Care Cooking: Stocking Your Larder, ‘Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation’ and ‘An Introduction to Making Professional Coffee’. There was also an opportunity for one of our Employment Academy Graduates to tell his story, in the session ‘Real Stories of Hospitality Ending Homelessness’. Facilitated by our Programme and Employment Manager, Brian Beaton, it gave the chance for graduate Thomas Noble to share his challenging journey from homelessness to starting his own business.  He was joined by his business partner and friend Jamal, and they both inspired and motivated the entire audience as they shared the story of how Coffeestry was born.

Wellbeing Wednesdays delivered learning, sharing, laughter and quite a bit of online dancing!  One Wednesday was facilitated by Jennie Carr and Ahmet Mehmet, who both regularly run workshops on our Employment Preparation Programme, their sessions focused on the themes; ‘The Real You: Getting Back to Yourself and What’s Important to You’ and ‘The Art of Stress Management’.   Participants were offered the chance to get involved in a photography competition – our good friend, founding member and award-winning photographer Tom Oldham set a challenge to take a photo which portrayed one or all of the five ways to wellbeing. Tom selected the winning photo and generously provided the first prize – a camera. You can see the entries, from trainers and participants, here.

Brian, who was the lead facilitator from the House of St Barnabas says: “I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Wellbeing Wednesdays project, working in partnership with other outstanding agencies, connecting with a wonderful audience and seeing the smiles on the faces of the people who were brave enough to register, attend, keep themselves visible on camera and engage. 

I would like to say a big thank you to all the agencies involved and a special shout out to Sarah and Charlie at Crisis who really were a driving force throughout the project.  We very much look forward to collaborating more in the future.”

The feedback from attendees has been excellent. One of our Employment Academy graduates who attended all ten sessions had this to say:

“There is definitely a lot for me to take away from the sessions. It was so nice to see Brian and everyone else from the House of St Barnabas after my graduation. I also feel the new meaningful connection from other charities in hospitality. I had laughs, learned new knowledge, made rediscoveries and there were a few tears. Connecting from behind the camera did feel strange at first. But I remembered something another graduate, Thomas said, “when you are out of your comfort zone that is when the amazing things will happen”. I experienced it once at the House of St Barnabas and now again from Wellbeing Wednesdays. Thank you again for your time, input and resources. I am looking forward to the future connection with you beautiful people again.”

Lastly, a reminder that it’s always a good idea to remember the five ways to wellbeing ‘CONNECT, LEARN, BE ACTIVE, GIVE and TAKE NOTICE’.  And an even better idea to do your best to action them.

Find our more about our work to support people affected by homeless back into good work, here.