Down & Out in Bournemouth & Poole: Day 16 – There Are Routes To Roots

Not everybody I’ve met on the streets of Poole Town sleeps rough in a car park, some guys have tents which they pitch in Poole Park or even in Upton Country Park. At times whilst attempting to access the housing benefit system at Poole Civic Centre, I’d meet some of these guys trying to do the same thing themselves. These are usually young men in their early to mid twenties who avoid the soup run (too many druggies they say), but who will regularly turn up to ‘Routes to Roots’ Poole’s local homelessness charity.

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That it’s a Christian charity is not the first thing you notice when you walk in through the doors, what you notice is the office phone. We use it when we want to save money on calls to the housing office, family and friends who are able to help out with money, and calls to the DWP. The next thing you notice is the piles & piles of clean clothing, if you’re on the street you cannot afford to wash your clothes regularly, so clothes get thrown away and then replaced.


Then of course, there are the stocks of sanitary pads and shower gels, deodorants and toothpastes and finally boots. All of us rifle through these things on a regular basis and as the need arises. In short it’s a charity that prides itself on being a useful charity, these guys used to be the ones funded by the council to count up the rough sleepers and ensure they were coping on the streets, at the most basic level. The council then changed its mind about the funding, it’s entitled to do that, but I’m sure that most of those homeless who have grown to trust and value the service, wish they hadn’t.


With this charity there is the prospect of being rehoused in good, furnished, habitable, accommodation, when it becomes available. Here’s the thing though, Gabby and the charity know that clients are not angels, they are all too human and like everyone else they have their frailties. Nevertheless, she would agree that they all deserve to be housed, and she therefore does her best to support them in getting rehoused, or at least in surviving until they are.


Without this particular charity there would be no network of homeless people, because they socialise in few places,’Routes to Roots’ is one of them. There is also a strong likelihood that there would be fewer younger homeless people getting fed, this is their main point of call for food a lot of the time. On Thursday this week, the patron of this charity, the new Bishop of Sherborne, showed up to meet the charity workers, the volunteers and the people who used this service. Without the humble and generous way this charity and its volunteers relate to the people they serve, she would have found herself standing in an empty hall.



I’ve met many of the people featured in the Youtube clip (Rob & his missis have recently been found housing), the only people missing are the Reverend Pat Southgate (always good for a cup of tea and a chat) chair & trustee & Caroline Foy their amazing administrator!

To support this charity TEXT: RTOR42 to 70070