Cathy Corcoran – CEO
Last Sunday I was working in our young people’s hostel when the buzzer at the street entrance went and in came a well dressed older woman. She said she was staying in the hostel opposite and had noticed that Pret a Manger often delivered free sandwiches. She hoped we didn’t mind, and asked if it was possible to have one as she was hungry. We explained that the delivery was usually in the evening and she was welcome to come back then. In the meantime we gave her some tins of soup and pasta from our emergency supplies.
She told me that she was on job seeker’s allowance which she wouldn’t get until Tuesday and her rent was so high she had run out of money for food. Without being asked, and with her head held high, she said: “you may not think this but I am nearly 50 and I’ve always worked. I’ve got a lot of experience and I can’t imagine not working or not wanting to work. I’ve put in lots of applications and I have an interview next Thursday so I am trying. I’m really trying.” It was as if she thought she had to justify her simple request for food.
At this point, I told her about the range of services we have to offer at the Centre and please would she consider coming to the Gateway the next day so we could identify how we could help her to get back into work. A look of relief passed across her face, as well as puzzlement, she said: “but I thought you only helped young people?”
When she came to the Gateway the next day, she met with staff and talked through her needs. She then booked herself into a meeting with our Jobs team, she made her first appointment with the Housing advice team and then went into the IT suite to check on what other jobs she might apply for.
And I thought there but for the grace of God, go all of us …