Army veteran is new manager

A WARM welcome to Rob Murphy who has taken over the helm at the Leonard Stocks Centre from Julie Bakewell. 

Taking over the management of the hostel at the height of a pandemic doesn't faze Rob who spent 22 years in the army, including tours of Afghanistan. Rob said: “I feel privileged to step into my new role as Team leader of Leonard Stocks Centre and work with a fantastic dedicated team. So far, I have been impressed with the support we receive, and the great work carried out by those who work here and the various support agencies. 

“These are unusual and difficult times; my mission is to make this vital resource a safe place where those who need our help and support are given every opportunity and helped to take positive steps to move forward. “I have come from a long military career (22 years) followed by management appointments and recently gaining a degree in Law from Plymouth University.“ I am planning to employ organisational and problem-solving skills I have gained over my lifetime to support both staff and residents and my more recently acquired knowledge to champion, protect and elevate our much-needed resource.” 

“I am extremely grateful to the Friends of Factory Row for their warm welcome and ongoing support and I am looking forward to meeting with you all when circumstances allow." 

Light in the Lockdown

THE Covid-19 lockdown has posed a huge challenge for the hostel residents. The good news is that there have been no cases at Leonard Stocks. 

At the height of the outbreak, two staff moved into the hostel to provide 24hr support. Residents followed social distancing rules. The Friends, who would normally provide monthly buffets and games, instead provided takeaways which residents could enjoy in their rooms. At Easter we bought every resident an Easter egg. 

Friends furnish re-settlement flats

MOVING people on from the hostel into accommodation which they can sustain has been one of the biggest challenges in the 30-year history of the hostel. Many residents have a dual diagnosis, typically a mental disorder and a drug or alcohol dependence. It is a disruptive combination and creates unique vulnerability. 

In the past our residents have been "cuckooed” in their new home, which means others moving in to take advantage. Earlier in the year the Friends helped furnish three flats in Torquay leased by Shekinah, the Plymouth based charity which also runs the hostel. Three potential tenants were identified within the hostel who we knew got on together and would be mutually supportive. Each had been in the hostel for over a year and had a string of failed tenancies behind them. 

But this time it's worked, crucially because of daily support from Housing First staff. Their presence deters exploitation and helps the residents through any crises. 

Passion for fruit 

KEEPING the 24 residents at the Leonard Stocks Centre fit and healthy is a priority during the pandemic. Fruit strengthens the immune system and lifts the spirit. From now on the Friends will be distributing bags to residents. Pictured with the first delivery are resident Gavin Mayer and Friends member Amy Washbrook. 

Jennie's mission for a healthy hostel

Your giving as a Friend of Factory is helping to fund a health worker in the hostel. 

Jennie McNulty began working with Project 58 many years ago and has been a volunteer and staff member for many years. Jennie, who trained as a nurse, has been working alongside NHS staff. She said: "There has been a Government push to test for Hep C, particularly since a lot of homeless people have been accommodated in temporary accommodation during the Covid crisis. 

We have had a testing day at the hostel and done some pop up testing in the community, which has been very successful, I have also been working with the smoking cessation service, funding vapes to give to the residents. 

"I have been overseeing this and again it seems to have been a really positive response. I am working with our practice nurse on residents health issues and getting the residents to have flu jabs for this winter and again in the wider homeless community.” 

God bless you Jennie for all your work over the years. 

Final thought

Final Thought "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”