The first organisation in the UK to support those experiencing homelessness into employment through eco-friendly cosmetics making has launched in Rotherham.
Labre’s Hope based in Parkgate was co-founded by 25-year-old Aaron Probert and 23-year-old Joash Nelson-Piercy and will get those experiencing homelessness back into work by providing them with an employment opportunity to make handcrafted, sustainable cosmetics.
The project has received half a million in funding from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund and is part-funded by South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.
274,000 people in England were homeless in December 2021, identified by Shelter, and Crisis’ annual report states that “employment is often the only way forward to ensure people have sustainable income to cover the cost of accommodation.”
A mix of soaring house prices and rents have contributed to an acute homelessness problem in the UK, and in Yorkshire, nearly 200 people were sleeping rough in December 2021, while over 3000 people were living in temporary accommodation.
Ten initial beneficiaries have been selected to be employed by Labre’s Hope, which will not only provide them with living wage employment but offer bespoke job coaching through South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) to boost their skill sets – maximising their financial and career prospects. SYHA will also provide social housing, a core element to helping people start their journey out of homelessness.
Crisis will provide a series of ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ sessions on topics such as understanding and managing change and dealing with stress and anxiety.
Aaron was inspired to set up the organisation after hearing the story of someone he met while studying at Sheffield University. She had experienced domestic abuse which led to alcohol escapism and becoming isolated from her support network due to her abuser. After hearing this, Aaron wrote his dissertation based on a business model and has now made it come to life.
The soap will be natural and plant-based and profits from products will be directly channelled into empowering people experiencing homelessness through employment training and wellbeing support.
Danny, a beneficiary who will be working at Labre’s Hope said: “I’ve been homeless for about eighteen months now, which has included sofa-surfing, street-sleeping and shed sleeping.
“The breakup of my marriage left me mentally broken, and I’ve been trying to bounce back from that ever since.
“Someone from Barnsley Council put me onto Crisis who have supported me since and this is how I found out about Labre’s Hope.
“Aaron is a phenomenal guy and has a person-centred approach to his organisation which is rare. Its going to help me look after me.”
Labre’s Hope is aiming to branch out to major cities such as London and Manchester in the next few years, with a goal of supporting 200 people at the end of their homelessness journey over the next five years.
Aaron said: “I am thrilled that our vision for helping people experiencing homelessness to achieve independence has finally come to life.
“Finding meaningful employment is one of the most crucial steps to help those experiencing homelessness and I am confident that our project will provide people with the skills they need to develop their independence.”
Images: Labre’s Hope