Reachout Network began in 1996 when its founder Paul Atkin began going into the city centre and giving out a hot drink and a sandwich to those who were homeless, and sleeping on the streets. Two years later the Network was born, with a Christian ethos and a drop in established for the homeless and vulnerable.
Reachout now run a centre for change as opposed to a drop in primarily for rough sleepers and those who were homeless who have to register and be referred. They provide showers and food two days a week, plus other days for guests who use the allotment, attend art class and are involved in maintaining the centre. They also offer a clothes bank with sleeping bags and other necessities for rough sleepers and those who are referred.
With 60-80 guests per week and 15 volunteers in the centre and on the streets, plus networking and involvement with the Birmingham Winter Night Shelter, homeless services, hostels and other agencies, Reachout Network is a significant part of the Christian response to homelessness in Birmingham. As Paul says:
“Our heart is to change people’s lives in order for them to be the best they can possibly be by integrating them into society and supporting them to be independent rather than maintaining them in their poverty or exclusion.”
All the Network’s funding is privately found through supporters, churches, agencies and fundraising efforts, which sadly makes them vulnerable to rising costs and unforeseen events. Paul explains
“In the last month we have helped three people travel to London to get documents sorted out. It’s not cheap. Those guys are so thankful. Also last weekend the music system was stolen. It is a very difficult situation, and our heart is to keep going. But the truth is we are struggling.”
Paul has taken the difficult decisions of closing the centre on a Monday evening and moving the café church breakfast from fortnightly to monthly, but hopes and prays that new donors will be found to secure the continuation of this vital service and ministry.
To find out more about Reachout Network Ministries and contact them see their website, and to give directly by BACS use the bank details below:
HSBC Bank: Sort code 40-11-13, Account number 31725017