We catch up with Leo Fenwick, strategic partnerships director at Fenwick, on the mission behind Street Zero…
Street Zero is a beacon of hope in the heart of compassion. Through innovative programs, this charity provides shelter, nourishment and pathways to better lives. They’re on a mission to eradicate homelessness by offering not just a handout, but a hand up.
We catch up with Leo Fenwick, strategic partnerships director at Fenwick, on Fenwick’s journey of raising funds to end rough sleeping in Newcastle.
What inspired the start of Street Zero?
Bob Eldridge, the founder and chair had spent over 20 years at the People’s Kitchen. He was there providing food and companionship to isolated people in Newcastle. Bob wanted to develop a partnership approach, with Street Zero being the catalyst, to respond to the wider challenges that people faced and to bring the city together to end rough sleeping.
As a business that makes up a large part of the community in Newcastle, Street Zero’s mission resonates with us at Fenwick. We are proud to have been raising funds to support their cause since 2018 to help their mission to end homelessness.
How does Street Zero approach the issue of homelessness, and what are your main goals and ambitions?
At the moment, the primary aim is to offer practical help to make a stable home feel safe, welcoming and attractive, to people who need support and encouragement to change their lives and move away from an unstable life.
Street Zero predominantly supports and enhances publicly-funded responses to homelessness and rough sleeping in particular. Since Bob left and closed the Newcastle Homelessness Commission, Street Zero has focused on supporting the city’s main landlords to supply Ready to Live homes.
This support helps housing providers bring back long-term empty properties and give the new residents a chance to be able to make the property a home. Street Zero adds value by making a basic offer of accommodation into a home. By facilitating the personalisation that makes the person feel that it’s theirs.
What services or resources does Street Zero offer to help homeless individuals?
We’re very fortunate in Newcastle to have great housing providers like YHN, Home Group, Changing Lives and Tyne Housing.
They provide accommodation, support and basic furnishings, which is great. However, to move towards Street Zero we know we stand a better chance if we provide the furnishings and electrical items. These are the things that turn basic accommodation into a home that owners can be proud of.
Many of the people we’re supporting have experienced trauma or are trying to recover from addictions. They are unlikely to have relatives in their lives who can afford to set them up in a home. As a supporter of the charity, we at Fenwick are pleased to see the money raised go towards practicalities. These are things like household appliances that many people take for granted.
Are there any initiatives or programmes within Street Zero that focus on improving the overall wellbeing of homeless individuals?
Street Zero seeks to show that the business community cares about its residents. They do so by maximising the efficacy of its charitable investments towards ending the risk of homelessness for people.
We start with the foundation of a home and build from that to promote wellbeing. This includes people having dedicated support workers, specialist GP and health services and a range of services that seek to provide Psychologically Informed Environments.
Last year Street Zero partners prevented 4,569 cases of homelessness. They also provided 1,363 accommodation placements to people at risk of homelessness. They ensured low levels of households in temporary accommodation.
In March 2023, the Government published data showed there were 9,078 children in temporary accommodation in Birmingham, 3,926 in Manchester and 52 in Newcastle. They maintained zero bed and breakfast use to meet statutory homeless duties since 2006.
Our next big initiative is to expand our Ready to Live programme. We want to bring over 100 new dedicated pathway flats online over the next year.
Where do most of your proceeds go?
All of the funds go to the city’s main housing providers to directly support people to have somewhere to call home.
How can local businesses or individuals support Street Zero in ending rough sleeping?
By working with us and providing funding and support to create opportunities for everyone in this great city, to have a more stable life – somewhere to live, an income, financial inclusion and employment opportunities.
At Fenwick, our long-term ambition is to increase our support for Street Zero. we aim to do that by looking at opening up our existing academy programme and providing roles within the business to aid with the transition to employment for those in need.
All donations are gratefully received and you can donate via Just Giving website.