One Big Family – Helping the Homeless

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Up and down the country, there are thousands of people doing good deeds every day, and we decided to celebrate the great work that charities undergo with a regular feature on Tuesdays, to tie-in with #CharityTuesday on Twitter. This week, we caught up with One Big Family - Helping the Homeless to find out more...

Where are you based, what geographical areas do you support people in and how do you support people?
"Down South"
In Medway we have a regular outdoor Soup Kitchen offering hot food, clothing, toiletries, essentials, food parcels and advice - we see over 50 people there every week.
In Victoria we have a weekly Wednesday Soup Run, offering the same as Medway plus a mini-foodbank on a Friday on Ebury Estate.
In both these areas we also do regular outreach, respond to emergency call outs when needed and help with form filling/attending meetings if requested.
Plus we do monthly outreach to Charing Cross and fortnightly in Maidstone.

"Up North"
West Yorkshire is our most recent addition - currently the team are doing weekly outreach in Huddersfield with essentials and hot drinks - they are hoping to branch out into another area before the summer.

Wherever we are, the most important thing we offer is our time and an ear - we don't claim to be able to solve homelessness / poverty but we pride ourselves on being a safe place for people to share without being judged.

How did the charity come to be founded?
Founded in 2015 by Darren and Liz Shaw, OBF help the homeless and those in need in Medway, London and Huddersfield.
The name "One Big Family" is taken from a song by a Yorkshire band called Embrace - they kindly agreed to let us use it.

How many people do you have working at the charity?
We are a completely voluntary run charity - with a hardcore of nearly 20 "on the street" volunteers - plus a reliable backstage crew who assist behind the scenes (cooking/collecting donations/fundraising etc..) - we are blessed with an amazing team!

How can people support you?
We rely on donations from the public - either items such as clean clothing, toiletries, sleeping bags, food etc which can be donated in each area. Items can also be purchased from our Amazon list or money donated via our BT Fundraising page. The support we have received so far has been incredible.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Challenges faced... maintaining a level of professionalism is sometimes difficult - there is still a level of ignorance surrounding the homeless issue, people can be very unkind - when you are trying to help someone and a member of the public walks past and shouts abuse, it can be tough to keep quiet - or when there is someone clearly in distress and people simply turn their heads and walk past, your faith in humanity is tested.

Do you have any charity events coming up and where can people find out about these events?
Upcoming Events - in May we are fielding a team in a charity football match, in July we have a charity gig in Margate, and we have a 50km sponsored walk (Soup Kitchen to Soup Kitchen - Victoria to Medway) in October... see Facebook and our new website (coming very soon) for more info...

Is there any advice you could give to other charities?
Advice for other homeless charities - check what's already available in your area before setting up and try to work with other organisations so as not to double up and get as much info on local services as possible so you can signpost people to the best agency. Ask advice from established organisations regarding insurance/policies etc... keep yourself safe.
Never promise people anything you aren't 100% certain you can give - false hope is unfair.

You can find out more about One Big Family - Helping the Homeless at their website or via Facebook and Twitter.