Reports Video Stories

Karen Reports: The Wellspring

Reported by Karen

Published on Friday, May 5th, 2023

Community Service Delivery Support and Relationships Volunteering and Employment
Reports Video Stories

Karen Reports: The Wellspring

Written by Karen

Published on Friday, May 5th, 2023


Service Delivery

Support and Relationships

Volunteering and Employment



Paul My name’s Paul Cornwall, job title is project worker. But I’m also a researcher, so my area research is a recovery from problems and substance use, long term recovery. And we are really looking at the brain aspects and psychological factors within addiction. The Wellspring in Stockport we deal with multiple aspects of complex needs for people at risk of homelessness and street homelessness. So this was developed years ago by a priest, the local priest, Father Botter, who found people turning up in his congregation who were street homeless. At that time they had an old Scout hut on the back that wasn’t being used, so the congregation got together and opened a soup kitchen where they could feed them. They started getting donations and so they could afford a project worker in there to sort of help with the underlying aspects around benefits and housing and looking into housing. And it grew. So in 1991, this place was built and it’s all been built off the foundation of love from the community. If somebody comes and presents at that door we get a full assessment and a sort of triage assessment of the needs – why are they accessing our service? What is the underlying issue?

Karen When I came in, I saw you talking to a guy that’s just got a flat and not a stick of furniture.

Paul I need to answer this phone call because I’m waiting on that call.

Karen Okay.

Paul Yeah. Sorry.

Karen You’re okay.

Paul I’m waiting on that phone call for the guy who’s got a flat.

Karen What services to do yourself and the members of staff, what services can they offer them?

Paul Right. So basically, we were a voice, we’re an advocate and a signpost. So we basically link them into the services they need.

Karen So if someone came here, Paul, and wanted… Was straight homeless and wanted to get a flat, Do you just say to them ‘there’s the number for Stockport council’ or do you actually get on the phone to Stockport council?

Paul We could do it both ways. We’ve got some really good cases where they have certain aspects of stuff for the homes are, really put the effort in. They go beyond the jobs. We’ve got some good people. Now, if you can’t understand the complexities, well, you’ll get negative. So yeah, and you can’t you can’t… Just by putting a person in a house doesn’t mean they’re sorted.

Karen Exactly.

Paul And so there’s a lead there, she’s bent over backwards for a guy who’s been in today working with this guy but his addiction issues are just chaotic and she’s had to put boundaries in place because his alcohol does… as we know. So it shifts and is very predictably unpredictable in his behaviour, which is… It’s scary. I mean the sort of ethos of this is whoever turns up at that door, regardless of status in life, we help.

Karen Do you think that will ever prevent homelessness rather than, you know what we do at the moment is people are becoming homeless and then trying to treat that. Do you ever think maybe with your research that we will prevent a larger number becoming homeless because we need to get to the root problem, don’t we?

Paul Yeah, but this is a percolation system. This isn’t bottom up. This is top down. This is this is the structure. You can’t have a government who put in austerity for 30 years and slashed services. So really we shouldn’t exist, there’s no two ways about it. We should not exist in a situation we’re one of the richest countries in the world, we shouldn’t be here. And that’s sad really. So what it basically comes down to is we try and address whatever complexities present to us and try and implement some form of change. And that’s what we’re here for, trying to impact the number of positive changes in their life. And what might be just small stuff, like giving them something to eat, but we do follow right through the procedure. So we’ve got people here who we’ve followed for years, you know, who just keep coming back to us. But we don’t try and enable people trying to develop a dependency on us. It’s just that when we do, we’re more than what the services do. We’ll follow through the process until they start to enable their own capability to sustain what they’re doing. That’s what we’re about. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. Not create impediments, try to empower them so they can do it themselves. Yeah.

Karen Paul, Thank you.


Paul Hi. My name’s Paul Cornwall, the project worker at Wellspring in Stockport. We deal with multiple aspects of complex needs for people at risk of homelessness and street homelessness.

Karen How long have you been here, Paul?

Paul I’ve been here six years. So this is a part of our facility and part of a service that we have actually Shelia who are based here over here. That’s a describing practitioner who’s an absolutely wonderful person. She’s here three days a week with vast experience of creating rapport with our members. She’s here Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a walk in clinic. Just walk in and she see’s them there and then, whatever the circumstances. We also have a GP based here on a Tuesday to Thursday.

Karen That’s brilliant.

Paul We also have sexual health clinics here and we have an opticians who come as well and do it on site. Hi guys again. This is the kitchen. This kitchen is solely run by volunteers mainly, and we have different teams… We have a rotation of these teams who are dedicated volunteers. Pillar of this charity really. Massive. Just as important as employees, the trustees, the members and the staff. There are a massive aspects of sustainability in what we do. And this is the kitchen where we serve up to say… The numbers have been getting quite large as well. So sometimes, it’s 50 in the morning, prep for service is up to 70 and over 70 through the week and for the meals at lunchtime. So yeah, that’s massive – a good set up.

Karen  Brilliant, thank you.

Paul So an individual rocks up here and lands first presents. We do a short criteria assessment or triage assessment. They can get food, showers, medical assistance and then go into the clothing area. Obviously, the volunteers take care of all this as well.

Karen Fantastic service isn’t it.

Paul Please excuse the mess. And we also have a rucksack project. We do a rucksack project every year and we have a we have a storage facility off site and then we we load up with general stuff on an everyday basis and a weekly run just to keep it topped up. I’ll let you have a look at that.

Paul And I’ll just show you the the basement downstairs and we got a lot of our stuff is brought in by the harvest, a lot of schools, and the churches and synagogues and mosques, everything is donated from the community. It’s all based on love. We’re not statutory in any way. So I’ll just show you the food store. We’re also part of the wider Stockport Food Network, which then if anything, we have over, we have too much of, we distribute to the food banks and all the other charities around.

Karen That’s brilliant isn’t it, yeah.

Paul So this is a storeroom where we store everything from all the meats and the freezing aspects to to all the stuff. These aspects. So we then supply over the temporary accommodations as well and give it out to the food banks in the hostels who we deal with in the housing. We also get rid of any out of date stock. We give that to another organisation as well which they utilise for farms or whatever it may be.

Karen So everything is utilised isn’t it. No, no waste.

Paul And any excess stock – we don’t keep anything we don’t utilise. It’s about connection and sharing this.

Karen That’s fantastic.

Paul Another key aspect to this is the trustees. We’ve got a fantastic loving board of trustees who are across disciplines, so they range from judges to accountants to engineers to lawyers and managing consultants to build this. And it’s great because they obviously have many governors in.

Karen Do feel that they really understand, that they really care?

Paul No two ways about it and that’s the percolation system within our system is one that trickles down. And I just love it all. you can’t do this job without loving it.

Karen You’ve got to care haven’t you. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.


Written by Karen

I'm Karen from Manchester it's great to meet you all. I'm a recovering alcoholic,
I experienced a short time of homelessness many years ago, I'm a survivor of domestic abuse and I'm happy to say I've come through it all.
I volunteered at a local Alcohol and Substance Abuse centre where I qualified as a Peer Mentor.
I now care for my elderly dad who is housebound and I feel blessed to be able and well enough to do this.
I hope as part of this Community Reporting team our stories can contribute to making a difference to homelessness and health inequalities and shine a light on any other injustices we come across.

Read all of Karen's articles


Community Service Delivery Support and Relationships Volunteering and Employment

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