Catching Lives is a local charity that has been operating in Canterbury and East Kent for over 20 years. In that time we have gone through a number of changes and challenges. The organisation has grown through the years and more recently, 2020 saw the challenges of the pandemic and lockdowns. But throughout the changes and challenges, we continue to aim to make a difference to the communities that we operate in.
The difference and impact that we want to have is simple enough; we want to help improve the lives of those who use our services and we want to enlist the help of all sections of the community in doing so. We want to help change attitudes and inform people about the issues surrounding homelessness; issues that, in this era of cuts and austerity, have the potential to affect us all. We also want to use our skills and expertise to help others in their work. We want to and do, all of these things.
As part of our community work we take work and study placements, do schools talks and training events, deliver tailored training on a variety of subjects, arrange visits to our Open Centre for schools and youth groups, take and train all kinds of volunteers, talk to church groups and congregations; but we want to do much more.
Beginning with the Canterbury Community Shelter, which was started with the assistance of many of the church communities in and around Canterbury, we have worked with an incredible mixture of organisations, building on the strengths of local individuals, associations, and bodies, statutory and otherwise. By continuing this work and by drawing on the resources of the larger community we can continue our work for many years to come.
Working with local universities, we offer occupational therapy placements to students to enable them to gain practical real world experience of working with the homeless in an OT role, which is pivotal in ensuring engagement between health services and our clients, as well as involving them in activities, building trust and rapport between clients and OTs.
We offer talks to local groups as a way of getting our message out to the community, detailing the difficulties our clients face, as well as our mission, services and the campaign work we do.
We have specialist talks for schools, asking students to consider what it means to be homeless and what a day in the life of a homeless person looks like. This talk is particularly useful for PSHE days.
Additionally, we hold training sessions at the centre at various points in the year with trained professionals to provide skills such as ‘Safeguarding, de-escalation and boundaries’ and ‘Mental health support’.
If you would like to arrange a talk, a training event, a visit to Canterbury Open Centre or would to discuss any project that could benefit our community, please email email@example.com or call 01227 464904.
The National Citizenship Service (NCS) run youth workshops for teens locally and on many occasions have chosen Catching Lives for projects involving fundraising and raising awareness of our cause.
Nathan Davies ran three marathons in two weeks to raise money for Catching Lives. On 22nd October he ran in the brutal Beachy Head marathon (lots of hills!) and the following weekend he ran 4 miles every four hours for 48 hours – as if that wasn’t enough Nathan said he ‘might as well add an extra 4 miles in there somewhere to make it a double marathon’. Nathan raised over £800 for Catching Lives, to support the homeless in 2022. He created a JustGiving page to collect donations and you can see his final total here.
Our Arts & Activities Co-Ordinator, Miriam Ellis joined forced with Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School to create a project for year 9 students to take part in creating bags with the aim of raising money for the charity. The students received an introduction to what we do at the centre and how we support the rough sleepers and homeless in this area.
With the support of their teachers, they worked on the bags over a few weeks and then each class voted on the top three bags.
The winners then went to deliver their bags to Rock, Paper, Scissors, a Canterbury-based lifestyle store, for them to be auctioned off on their Instagram page. The rest of the bags were sold later in the year at a school fair, with all proceeds going to Catching Lives.