Last week we had the honour of delivering life-changing training to people from Rochdale on a special residential visit to Trafford Hall.
We took service-users from Rochdale-based charity Petrus on a “life-changing” trip with us to Trafford Hall as part of our joint skills and employability programme designed to combat lack of opportunity and negative societal stigma.
This is the first time we’ve worked directly with Petrus - a charity which supports people who have experienced or who are at risk of homelessness - and we’re so proud to be supporting them to recognise their potential through a special training programme.
As part of the training programme, called ‘Project 5’, a group of six enjoyed a two-night residential visit to NCRC Trafford Hall and for many of them, this was the first time they had been away from home.
Coproduction is a key part of Project 5 so we involved the participants in every step from recruitment of staff to planning the residential trip. They drew up two and a half days of activities to develop their confidence and recognise their skills in communication and resilience, as well as building self-esteem and teamwork.
Fresh off the mini-bus from Rochdale, the group took a wellbeing walk around the gardens of Trafford Hall before embarking on new experiences that pushed them out of their comfort zone and allowed them to identify their individual strengths and aspirations.
A sure highlight of the trip was a series of workshops delivered by Mancunian poet Mike Garry. Mike inspired the group to see language as power, leading them through writing exercises to empower the participants to use their voice and tell their personal story.
The visit ended with a session on goal-setting and discussion about the service users’ hopes for the future. As a final gesture the team planted a Hebe shrub in the gardens of Trafford Hall – a fitting legacy and a metaphor for their growth and development while taking part in Project 5.
Nathan, a Project 5 participant and Petrus service user, spoke about how the trip has given him optimism for the future, and described the trip as “the time of his life”. He said: “When I started, I felt like I was at the bottom. I’ve come up now. I’m in the middle – I'm not at the top yet. But now I know I’m going to get up to that higher mark with the support of everyone here.
“It seems like we’ve been together for a lot longer. It just seems like we’ve known each other for ages, not that we’ve just started the project. We’ve come together and it’s like a community.”
Fellow Project 5 participant Marvin added: “When we go back to Rochdale, we’re going as different people. We’ve all changed and grown - everyone’s opened up.”
Tracy Greenwood, Learning and Support Worker at Petrus, said: “It has been an amazing experience - truly heart-warming and inspirational. I have laughed so much and cried tears of pride for the participants. Together we had a truly a fantastic time - something I’ll never forget. Our participants are just a wonderful bunch!”
Sonia Denham, Head of Petrus, said: “It has been a real honour to watch people change and grow during the residential and over the course of Project 5. They have been empowered to understand that their lived experience is their asset, and that they have a valuable place in society.
“Project 5 is supporting them to take positive steps forward after overcoming negative societal stigma and inequality. We look forward to seeing them continue to thrive over the coming months thanks to their new-found self-esteem. I’m in awe of them and our visit to Trafford Hall was life-affirming, life-changing and life-enriching – for them and me.”
Sharing his experience of working with the group, poet Mike Garry said: “I’ve been working with the Project 5 group to develop their confidence most of all – in themselves and their confidence with language. They have been knocked back many times over and their value in society is not what it should be - their self-value is low. They need to tell the people who’ve let them down why they are important fulcrums of community, beacons of hope, lighthouses of tenderness and care and kindness and fairness. To help them articulate that brings them power – to be able to speak it and share their story.
“What I got most out of working with Petrus is a sense of brother-and-sisterhood. I’m no different to these individuals and isn’t it lovely to spend time with people like you.”
Jo Abraham, Managing Director at The Learning Foundry, added: “We’re incredibly proud to be part of The Regenda Group alongside Petrus and NCRC at Trafford Hall and to be working together to deliver this residential visit as part of our joint training programme.
“This is the first time we have worked together to deliver training and support to people who have experienced homelessness. Our team brings more than 25 years of experience of supporting learners who have faced adversities and we’re proud to be working alongside Petrus. Project 5 in Rochdale is our pilot project, and we hope to scale up the project to support individuals on a larger scale – in Liverpool and nationally.”
Project 5 is a project available to adults in and around Rochdale who have experienced homelessness and those who have been affected by negative societal stigma, discrimination or inequality.
The project is a partnership between Petrus, a homelessness charity based in Rochdale, and Liverpool-based training provider The Learning Foundry.
Project 5 uses a person-centred approach to empower participants to recognise that it is their direction, their choice, their future, their way and their journey.
Find out more about Project 5 here.