Mark Jones and Graham Cornell made a delivery of bottled water, snacks, soft drinks, treats, toiletries and items of clothing to the CHESS centre in Chelmsford. These items were donated by the brethren of The Wheel of Fellowship Lodge 9016 in Maldon, Essex
Barbara Buxton the manageress of the CHESS centre in Chelmsford was waiting outside to greet Mark Jones and Graham Cornell who presented Barbara with the donations. She thanked members and explained that the outreach service covers Brentwood, Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon and Rochford. The donated gifts are distributed by volunteers and are much appreciated by the homeless people.
CHESS has several facets, but the overall goal is to help people move on in a positive way with their life. CHESS is about change, about supporting someone to identity and resolve issues that have caused homelessness. Usually this involves not only the immediate issue that led to homelessness but factors prior that have caused issues for the person. They therefore take a holistic approach when working with someone and look at all areas of like not just housing.
They will go and see someone who has been referred through Streetlink to see what help and support they need. It might be initially practical issues like food/water/sleeping bag/tent/local services that are available but also identifying what support is needed. This maybe accessing emergency accommodation, helping access longer term accommodation and support services. The accommodation is initially for 3 nights to get the person off the street and then renewed for up to a month whilst seeking more suitable accommodation whilst they work with people intensively. This may be within the CHESS shelter or outside us if appropriate. They have a 9-bedroom initial property and a 3 bed for those entering CHESS through the Outreach team both of which have been opened during the pandemic.
They have a shelter (the original one opened in 1996) which was only at night but since we reopened in November 2020 (they were shut down at the end of March as a result of the pandemic) they have opened on a 24/7 basis with staff on site providing help and support to residents plus acting as an on-call facility to their move on houses. The shelter provides an initial stay of 28 days whilst they get to know someone and identify the issues that need to be addressed. They did have 9 residents but as a result of the pandemic they have had to reduce this to 4 as they were only allowed to reopen with a bathroom per person and we only have 4. We are currently looking at ways to get the numbers back up. They have however got 7 other move on houses accomodating up to 34 people where residents move onto from the Shelter/Outreach whilst they are addressing their issues and pending more permanent accomodation. Two of the 7 houses (8 additional beds) have been added since the pandemic started to help offset the reduction in beds at the shelter and expand capacity. They usually have volunteers helping at the shelter but this has been suspended in the current circumstances.
This is a local charity that does so much good work in the local community that the members of the lodge wanted to do something in support of all their hard work.