Friends of Factory Row

Newsletter of the Friends of Factory Row

(Friends of Factory Row are responsible for the contents of this page)

MY brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show for it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day and one of you says: “Good luck to you, keep yourself warm and have plenty to eat and does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action it is in itself a lifeless thing.

YOU hear a lot about domestic violence if you start talking to the men and women who stay in Factory Row.

Sometimes it helps them to tell their story, because they have learned that it’s better to ventilate their feelings rather than leave them all bottled up so that they gnaw at you from the inside.

Some victims of domestic violence show remarkable insight into what growing up in a violent abusive home has done to their lives and they want to share their stories as warning to others, in a plea for zero tolerance.

One of the worst stories of domestic violence and the painful struggle to overcome the consequences I heard just recently.

Bill (his name has been changed to ensure his anonymity) experienced and was the victim of the most appalling thuggery. He was oldest of three children who together with their mother were beaten systematically assaulted by their father. His sister and mother were also raped to the extent that his sister has no memories of childhood before her 13th birthday. Bill says he was tortured by his father; he suffered head injuries and was deliberately scolded. Worse he saw his younger brother being targeted. “My brother used to be targeted because my mother was more protective of him and it he knew it hurt her more to see him battered and bleeding than me.”

The police were sometimes called to the house because of the uproar. He was known to be a very violent man and the timid officers would shout through the door “We’ll go away if you stop the noise.” Bill said: “He would line us up and tell us that if anyone made a squeak he would kill us.” Thank God the police no longer avoid “domestics” but treat violence in the home as a top priority.

And where were child protection? Bill said they would dream of being put in a “home” to get away from their violent father. We like to think that with greater resources and watchful professionals such abuse would never be allowed to continue. Everyone in the extended family was assaulted. He had attacked Bill’s grandparents with a broken bottle. The fear ran deep.

And the consequences? Bill’s brother has never recovered from the head injuries he received. His sister is unable to sustain a relationship.

And Bill himself?

He met a woman and they had three children together but Bill was not able to cope emotionally with the stress and strains of marriage because he had never seen anyone resolve issues without throwing punches. Remarkably, and against the trend of research, he was determined as a husband and father never to harm them in any way. He knew the consequences.

Unhappily he has a long history of violence towards others.

Bill’s mental health has also suffered. He survived a leap from Torquay’s multi-storey car park and has a severe and enduring mental illness.

We talked about how we can survive life experience, and put it to good use. He has remarkable empathy with the underdog, especially those under physical threat, and is protective of those he sees targeted by bullies.

He has undergone extensive anger management counselling and told me with great pride how he now manages to resist throwing a punch.

He sees his life changing and is looking forward to greater contact with his children, to having his own flat, to one day writing a book.

He talks with great warmth about how the staff and volunteers at Factory Row have given him a base from which to build.

Bill looks with optimism to the future.

His father hung himself.

Since the last newsletter everyone here at the Torbay Project has been busy preparing for the upcoming redevelopment of the whole of Factory Row. About the time the first of the daffodils come into bloom in the spring, a whole different kind of re-growth is due here, with work to begin in April for what will be a very hectic fifteen month complete rebuild.

Finding a suitably sized location to contain all of the vital work we do here hasn’t been easy. I’m pleased to be able to let you all know that we won’t have to provide hard hats for our residents – we have found a temporary new home for all of our services, and will continue to provide new hope for the homeless throughout the rebuild.

The brand new, purpose built Factory Row complex, that for so long was just a vision, will soon be reality. I’d like to thank every one of you for helping us to get to this point– The hard work doesn’t end here, with this new building the possibilities of what we can achieve continue to grow and with it the need for fundraising. So we’d like to ask that you all continue to support us into the future.

Perhaps some of you would also be willing to donate something more to the people who use our services - your time. The gift of time is one that few of our residents have ever had. We have several clients who have overcome addiction and are taking steps towards independence; what we’re asking is for people to volunteer to get involved with these journeys to a ‘normal life’.

Perhaps you’d be willing to, with a friend, take a few of them out for a bowling game, or for tea. Maybe you’d be willing to come in and cook a meal or organize a quiz.

If you feel like you’d like to volunteer, with full training and ongoing supervision, please contact Nick Pannell to express your interest. All you’ll be committing to is coming along to an informal meeting to gather more information with no further obligation necessary.

ONE of the ways life has changed for the residents housed in the hostel and community houses is the courses they can no join. They provide some structure to the day, a place of social contact and learning.

Especially popular has been the Self Development Through Learning Course which has been hosted by Project 58. Modules include how to find accommodation, managing conflict and anger, dealing with emotions, budgeting, handling benefits.

Rhona Webb, who has been co-ordinating the development of training between the two projects, considers the Awards a milestone in the history of both organisations. “Centres delivering the course in South Devon were the highest performing in the UK, and as part of this Project 58 and the Torbay Project had 36 clients achieving passes in a total of 110 modules.”

Other courses continue. Five or six men are currently taking part in an offending behaviour course. Substance abuse and how to improve relationship courses have also been popular.

There was a time when boredom was a real enemy for many of the men and women staying in the hostel. With a range of courses and activities now in place lives are becoming much more meaningful.

RESETTLING people quickly back into independent living is the aim of all staff working in Factory Row. Stays at the Torbay Project hostel are meant to be limited to just a few weeks but sometimes people are just too vulnerable, their lives too chaotic, for anything less than 24-hours a day support.

Brian (not his real name) has been staying in the hostel since February. The 38-year-old first came to Torquay as a teenager when his parents resettled here. Life was OK. He trained as an electrician and began working on local housing developments. He married in 1994 and although Brian describes himself as a bit of a rebel, life was full of promise. Then cracks began to appear in his marriage. His wife had three miscarriages and then they went on the waiting list for IVF treatment. That kind of anxiety can put a strain on the strongest of marriages, and Brian recreational drug use began to increase. Finally his marriage broke down and he moved back in with his parents. His return to the family fold led to new tensions and he left, taking up the offers of friends to sleep on the sofa “sofa surfing” as it is sometimes called. But it’s the slippery slope and soon home became a tent pitched behind the Torbay Hotel or the floor of a derelict hotel.

Brian spent a whole winter sleeping rough found a circle of new friends – fellow street dwellers, but also a deadly enemy.

He said: “I’d been taking drugs for years but had always avoided heroin. When I became homeless people said “try this” and I didn’t care anymore and took some.”

He knew about Factory Row but he’d heard bad things and didn’t want to stay with us.

“I tried to avoid it initially but when I did get in here I wish I had done much earlier. The street can be a very aggressive place. Factory Row is a refuge from that.”

Now Brian is addressing his heroin addiction. Because he is living at Factory Row he has been able to join a drugs programme and is currently on methadone, a drugs substitute. It’s a long journey but we know that many hundreds of people who have stayed at Factory Row have used the stability and support of the project to get off heroin and re-build their lives.

THE sun shone just long enough for us to enjoy a highly successful garden party at the home of Ray and Sadie Yates during the summer.

Showers threatened all day, but for two vital hours the sun shone and nearly 70 people sat down to enjoy fresh scones, a pot of tea, a wonderful garden and spectacular sea views. The event raised £483.30 and brought together our membership for some lively conversation and reunions.

Thanks to our host for their outstanding generosity.

THOSE of you who receive the Herald Express or the Western Morning News would have learned that the Langley House Trust has now submitted a planning application for the re-build of Factory Row. Council officers are recommending approval and we hope and pray the plan is supported.

The Friends have discussed with the Trust what contribution we can make to the re-build. For many months now the Friends committee has been putting aside some money that can be invested in a special part of the project.

WE have now decided what that will be. We want to furnish the lounge of the direct access provision.

This will be a big expensive job and although it has not been fully costed we predict a busy year. Working with the staff and residents we want to create a room that his homely and welcoming. Choosing the right paintings, wall and floor covering, books for a small library, video collection .. the list is endless.

We hope the lounge will be called “The Friends Room” and we can continue to look after this space and keep it special.

Getting Involved

By Stan Westmoreland, a retired police officer and member of the Friends of Factory Row

WE live in a world of excess, we buy more than we need, we don't have a season for food, it is produced all year round.

BUT out there in Torbay are people who do not get anything in excess, and what they do get is donated by others.

A couple of years ago I became more aware of the needs of the homeless in Torbay. I had heard of The Friends of Factory Row, a group of people who help the homeless in our local area. I met some of those who provide help, and I saw at first hand what they did. The more I saw the more I felt the need to get involved.

Now I collect furniture, clothing, and food. When we have a car full I go with my wife to Factory Row in Torquay and deliver what has been donated. We are always welcomed by the staff and the residents, and the donations are always received with smiles and a thank you.

My wife and I are members of Palace Avenue Methodist Church in Paignton, which has always been a generous supporter of Factory Row, and the homeless of the Bay. This summer it was decided that perhaps we could extend that generosity with gifts of food items on a weekly basis. A basket was provided in the foyer of the church and the congregation was informed of the intentions to collect what we could, in the way of non-perishable foods and personal things, like tooth paste, socks, pants, razors etc. Each Sunday the basket is brought to the front of the church and blessed during the service, and the gifts are then delivered to Factory Row.

We must all have faith and compassion for others.

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Please give generously

SIGN UP A FRIEND/OR MAKE A DONATION

To build up the strength of the Friends of Factory we need your support to sign up new members.

I would like to make a donation/become a Friend of Factory Row to help with the on-going “Move On Up” Appeal.

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Enclose a donation or Membership to become a Friend of Factory Row. I enclose £5.00 to cover my annual membership

Please return this form with donation/annual membership to:

LHT(TP) Friends of Factory Row, PO Box 373, Paignton, TQ3 1WX

THANK YOU FOR BEING PART OF THE "FAMILY" OF FACTORY ROW

If you are a taxpayer you can make your donation worth almost 28 per cent more to us.

Name: ........................................................................

Address: .....................................................................

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Please return this form with donation/annual membership to:

LHT(TP) Friends of Factory Row, PO Box 373, Paignton, TQ3 1WX

If you are a taxpayer you can make your donation worth almost 28 per cent more to us.

GIFT AID DECLARATION

I would like the Torbay Churches 'Homeless Trust to treat all donations I make from 06 April 2005 as Gift Aid donations until I notify otherwise.

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PLEASE make all cheques payable to: "Friends of Factory Row (LHT(TP)"

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(Friends of Factory Row are responsible for the contents of this page)