transforming lives together: autumn 2014

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An informative and inspiring quarterly newsletter with stories of lives transformed through the work of Friends First.


  • Transform Lives; Culvate Talent; Release Potenal

    Friends First oers a hand-up by encouraging people to take

    posive steps forward with their lives; enabling progression

    from desperaon: homelessness, isolaon and

    unemployment to aspiraon: a home, belonging to a

    community and employment.

    Desperaon to Aspiraon: A Life-Transforming Journey

    We are o en front-line support to

    those who have been orphaned as

    children and remain adult

    orphans. One such person is Billy

    who recently joined Friends First. He

    was 12 years old when his father

    died. On return from his fathers

    funeral his mother was tragically killed in a car accident. Billy

    went onto live with his mothers sister which was not a happy

    or a successful period of me, followed by turbulent teenage

    years in care. A er living at many dierent hostels Billy found

    himself homeless at 22 years old; living on the streets. We

    managed to provide a room for Billy at our community house

    and he began a+ending our work-readiness iniave in

    carpentry. Over the weeks he began to nd a sense of joy and

    achievement in working with wood and he enrolled at City

    College to complete a weekly course in carpentry and joinery.

    He is doing extremely well and recently received three

    disncons following his praccal examinaons. He renes his

    newly acquired skills at our workshop and is thankful for the

    underlying support structure that Friends First oers during

    this me. Billy is showing reecve maturity towards his past

    issues; looking forward to the future, with genuine hope and


    Serena Crisp of Friends First met with the Head of Curriculum

    for Business and Commercial at City College, Brighton to

    ascertain how we can work more closely together going

    forward. Partnership with City College will oer our

    beneciaries the opportunity to gain a formal qualicaon

    in-line with our work-readiness training.

    Cooking up a Storm

    Our team of beneciaries have been tesng their culinary

    skills over the past few months by preparing daily

    community lunches alongside team leader Pat Wilby; who

    is an excellent support worker and cook! We were recently

    oered the opportunity to work in associaon with the

    Clarendon Centre, Brighton to prepare food for a large

    event over a 6 week term. This enabled Pat to take some of

    our beneciaries a step further on their culinary journey.

    This week they set to work to prepare dinner for 200

    people! Each person worked relessly to prepare the most

    delicious Thai Curry which also included a vegetarian opon.

    Brighton MP visits Friends First

    We welcomed MP Caroline Lucas to

    meet our wonderful team, see our

    newly renovated oce and visit our

    basement workshop. She was

    delighted to meet some of our

    beneciaries; gaining rst hand

    insight into their journey so far

    whilst they presented some of their

    fantasc handiwork.

    Going forward we are looking to

    create bespoke furniture out of

    discarded scaolding planks and

    crates to sell; infusing an element

    of enterprise into this area of our

    work. Caroline was thrilled by the

    possibility of being our rst

    customer (and so were we!)

    Summer 2013


    Please Note: Names of beneciaries featured in this newsle+er are changed to protect their identy

    Contact us: For more informaon on Friends First or anything featured in this newsle+er contact Serena Crisp (Communicaons Manager) on or 01273 840880

    Autumn 2014

  • The Amphibious Car Fundraiser

    Two local engineering geniuses,

    Barclay Hamer and Dan Boot-

    Handford, set the challenge to

    modify a standard road car into an

    amphibious car that not only drives

    on land but also powers across water

    to raise funds for Friends First! The

    lads successfully launched their

    amphibious car, into the Adur at Ropetackle slipway and

    travelled down the river half a mile to Emerald quay. The

    tension rose to see if the car would make it back up the slip

    way at Emerald Quay onto dry land: which it did!! It was such

    an incredible achievement and a fun-lled event where people

    of all ages joined in the excitement! Barclay and Dan chose

    Friends First to raise funds for as it is parcularly close to

    Dan's heart following his family playing an instrumental role in

    mentoring and supporng past and present beneciaries of

    Friends First. There is sll me to sponsor them via:


    Awareness of Friends First

    The Amphibious Car a+racted a urry of media a+enon. This

    included a full page arcle in The Argus and various interviews

    by Brightons Latest TV. This gave us the opportunity to invite

    James Dunham, from Latest TV, to visit our base and work-

    shop at Clarendon Villas. James

    enjoyed meeng and lming team

    leader Danny Cassidy and some of

    our amazing beneciaries taking

    part in our Carpentry Iniave. Visit

    this link to view James footage of

    life at Friends First:


    Barista Training

    Our base, at the Clarendon

    Villas, has a Coee Shop on

    site with a barista coee

    staon. This has enabled our

    beneciaries to learn

    valuable skills in barista.

    An Opportunity to Give Back

    In November we will see the launch of

    our fourth Winter Night Shelter in

    associaon with local churches. It is

    such a privilege to be able to provide

    warmth, shelter and community to those who are homeless.

    We are so encouraged that two of our beneciaries who were

    helped on last years night shelter have volunteered their me

    this year; oering inspiraon and hope to others.

    A Homeless View of Brighton

    We organised a trip around Brighton

    for our beneciaries who were

    keen to pracce their photographic

    skills. They, like no-one else, know

    this city like the back of their hand

    and can show us a side of life that

    we may not see.

    For some, it brought back memories

    of their hide-outs at night.

    For Pete, this was a shelter on the

    seafront at the end of Grand Avenue.

    For Jake, it was steps in the lanes

    where he spent most of his nights on

    the street.

    One beneciary simply took a picture

    of a wall, behind the Thistle Hotel,

    where he and others gathered at night

    for warmth and shelter.

    A Beneciarys Story

    I found myself needing the help of the Rough Sleepers team.

    Unl then I had never heard of Friends First and the work they

    do with the homeless. My rst day (at Friends First) was

    nerve-wracking and I felt fear clouding over me like so many

    mes before, though as soon as I was there, I felt all fear fall

    away. The people were so welcoming and friendly and I

    instantly felt relaxed and at ease. The worries I had about

    certain things felt like they no longer ma(ered and it seemed

    like all my quesons were answered without even having

    asked them. I was slightly worried about what work I would be

    doing, but I was soon put at ease. Friends First provide training

    that includes gardening to computer skills; which is where my

    skills lie. Woodwork and furniture-making is something quite

    common at Friends First. I have never done this type of thing

    before but found myself asking to have a go and I did some

    sanding and surprisingly enjoyed it immensely. I am wanng to

    learn new skills and feel that being at Friends First will help me

    to do this. Life brings more security each day, and I am making

    new friends as well. I am keeping all my opons open and all

    my paths in view. Hopefully I will take the right one which

    leads me to where I want to be in life. Yet for now I am happy

    where I am heading!

    A Christmas Tree that will make a

    Life-Transforming Dierence!

    Friends First will be raising money

    this year by selling real Christmas

    Trees to order! Orders will need to be

    completed online by 24th November

    2014, details to order will follow

    via our website:

    Make a Donaon Any donaon, however large or small, is really appreciated. It's great to know we've got such wonderful individuals supporng FF to transform many more lives. Please visit to donate.

    Alternavely you can contact Serena Crisp on 01273 840880.