Before the beginning
On the journey to our first meeting Polly held a senior position with Network Rail and Chris had been a Pilot Officer in the RAF, Farmer and Educational designer. Both had worked hard and had seemingly secure futures.
But it wasn't plain sailing getting to the start of this story. Chris had a brush with the law after sixty two years of a previously blameless life. Allegedly, he had produced a will for his ex-wife's new partner who had died deeply in debt, (who would forge a will for a dead bankrupt?) Without the money for a defence lawyer and no Legal Aid available it all went the wrong way in Court.
Then during Polly's divorce her ex-husband was so upset by a text message asking him to care for his child that both she and Chris we charged with harassment, again history was re-written.
And that's how Polly and Chris got criminal records. Not anything we are proud of, but it happened, now the convictions are spent and life goes forward.
The nightmare of homelessness
So we started from behind right at the beginning .
But then the real nightmare started. Illness, causing a long period in hospital with no family for support, marked the slide into losing everything and becoming homeless.
Only the help of total strangers, a blind farmer and his wife, David and Di Harper who gave us an old wooden office to sleep in, gave us a roof over our heads.
We are grateful for the shelter and support that they offered us - it gave us the will to go on.
Even when we had got on our feet the experiences of homelessness still haunted us - it had been such a short journey from comfortable to homeless that we decided we must do something to help others who were walking the same path and perhaps hadn't been so fortunate as us in getting help.
The idea is born
Naively, we thought creating an organisation to help people in need would be easy. Trying to raise capital to launch an enterprise to support homeless people when you have no money, no address, no bank account and no phone while there is a pandemic raging across the world certainly isn't the easiest of tasks.
After a year of searching, organising, begging and borrowing we managed to open our first fund raising shop - amaze - in Malvern Link.
We had a simple concept, we would provide the opportunity of paid work for people in need. Individuals are employed converting donated items into quirky and imaginative household gifts - lights, clocks, candles; the proceeds from selling these go to pay their wages.
Helping with enterprise to take the less out of homeless!
the grand opening!
April 24 2021 was the big day! Stilt walkers and musicians welcomed a large crowd to the grand opening of amaze in Malvern Link.
Crammed with generous donations together with all the creatively crafted items that had been upcycled into lights, clocks, candles and soaps the shop opened to critical acclaim. - The charity shop, that was nothing like a charity shop was born.
Most importantly, we had been able to employ people in need to make the items in the shop and had proved that enterprise can help people out of hardship. We had found a way to take less out of homeless.
the roller coaster ride
Having demonstrated the enterprise model works, that it doesn't cost anything to provide meaningful employment for those in need, we are now seeking to expand. There is no reason that this idea will not work all over the UK.
Enterprise, taking the less out of homeless, finding alternative uses for unwanted household items and helping to create busy high streets makes for a win, win, win situation.
Please support our idea and visit us at amaze!