I was so thrilled to have a role in the official opening of Step by Step’s new building in Crimea Road, Aldershot, because there were so many wonderful people who had worked so hard over the past 23 years to realise this vision – such as Founder Bridgett Crowther – and I just happened to be Mayor on the day (slideshow below).
Step by Step Chair Mike Brown was MC for the occasion, and he spoke movingly of how all those involved were focussed on the needs of the clients – all the time with the aim of empowering young people and those facing adversity to reach their full potential.
In a double act, Rushmoor Borough Council Leader Cllr. Peter Moyle and Chief Executive Andrew Lloyd described their splendid efforts to make sure that the project was one of real partnership and overcame all difficulties to bring it to fruition, for example by providing the site at reduced cost.
Sentinel Housing Association Chief Executive Martin Nurse was particularly proud of how the housing and facilities in the new building fit so well with their corporate mission to be a great landlord for those most in need of social housing.
Next, Mark Methven introduced a video (in which he starred!) giving a “whirlwind” tour of the new building – from triage at Reception to en-suite bedrooms upstairs, including communal kitchen and leisure space, training rooms, IT access, confidential D’n’A service, and one-to-one meeting rooms.
Then came the demonstration of synchronised boxing, in which the four young men showed what they had learned in a three-week course supervised by Foyer Training Co-ordinator Nick Wooldridge. They were very impressive, so it was a great pleasure for me to present them with their certificates acknowledging what they had achieved in terms of boxing skills and training teamwork.
There followed a 10-minute demonstration of how Step By Step’s young people reach out to schools with their education programmes about homelessness and drugs (in this case homelessness), led by Support Worker Ivan Norris. Step By Step client Vanessa did very well in taking on the role of narrator for the first time, in view of the large audience of adults, who might well have appeared intimidating.
We then heard of the real success of Step By Step in family mediation from Caroline Dixon, who is Youth AIMS Manager. She spoke about Keiran’s story and how the service had helped 67 young people to move back home with their families this year. They believe that young people are best housed and supported within their own families wherever that can be made possible. And there was a particular round of applause when Caroline reported that this Step By Step service had just been guaranteed funding for a further two years and would be able to recruit and additional support worker for that role.
Finally, it was down to Step By Step Chief Executive Amanda Dubarry, who, instead of basking in the real achievement of moving into the new building, set out a fresh vision for the future – providing even more and better services to meet the needs of their clients.
After a break, there was the opportunity to tour the new building and accommodation, which I described on a previous blog: http://mayorofrushmoor.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/step-by-step-helps-young-homeless-find-their-way-forward/