This week, while many of us are planning our Christmas day dinner, thousands more are looking ahead to a day without a hot meal. Darren Clabby, 47, was facing that reality until a Big Lottery Fund project stepped into help.
Here he explains how Fresh Start, an Edinburgh based charity, helped him set up his new home and gave him hope for the future:
“This time last year I was about to lose my home”, says Darren from Edinburgh. “I had been self employed as a joiner for 15 years but then the recession hit and I lost my job. Christmas wasn’t a time for celebration.”
Darren’s story is reflective of recent research which suggests that one in four employed people in Scotland could be one pay cheque away from losing their home.
He continues: “I never thought I would find myself in that position. Things snowballed and my wife and I split. Finally, in May this year I lost my house. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with friends and family for short periods of time but I had no where to call home.”
Without a fixed address, Darren also found himself unable to secure a job. Things looked bleak until Dunedin Canmore housing association got him a long term lease on unfurnished flat.
“Losing my house was tough but in hindsight was actually my fresh start”, Darren says. “It’s when I came in contact with Fresh Start. Their office was just across the road and they gave me a starter pack for my new home which was a lifeline. As part of that they gave me a cooker. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to have a hot meal, which most people take for granted.”
Keen to give something back, Darren began volunteering at Fresh Start’s Food Station allotment where
he was able to put his skills to good use. In January he’ll also become a volunteer for their Hit Squad service, helping other former homeless people to decorate their new homes.
“Fresh Start was there to help me when I needed it most”, says Darren. “I want to give something back and volunteering is a great way to help others going through what I experienced.
“For the first time in years I won’t be worrying at Christmas. It will be a cause for celebration and something that I can finally look forward to.”
Fresh Start received £104,130 from our Support and Connect fund to provide starter packs and household goods to people moving out of homelessness and into their own tenancies in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian. Over 8,000 packs are distributed each year to around 2,000 new tenants. The project also offers cooking classes and access to an allotment which enable people to learn new skills.
It was one of 122 projects to share in over £19 million from the Big Lottery Fund tackling hardship in communities across Scotland.
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