Shekinah charity boss John Hamblin hopes ‘we all rethink the way we live and treat each other’

John Hamblin, CEO of Shekinah

John Hamblin, CEO of Shekinah - Credit: Archant

A Torbay charity has been working around the clock to provide the Bay's homeless with support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shekinah in Torquay town centre provides opportunities for people in recovery or seeking recovery. This may include recovery from homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, offending behaviours or mental ill health.

Shekinah CEO John Hamblin said: 'One of the great things about running an organisation like Shekinah is that I often see ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. That said, there has been nothing during my 18 years at Shekinah that will ever surpass some of the incredible acts of kindness and compassion that I have seen over the last three weeks.

'As an organisation we were very aware that when the virus broke, many of the people we support have complex health issues which would place them into the high-risk group.

'Working hard with both Torbay Council and other agencies, plans were put into place to try to keep supporting people and if needed ensure they receive the medical care that may be required.

'Over the last three weeks the staff at the Leonard Stocks Centre, Housing First team and other Shekinah projects have been truly exceptional and inspiring. Two members of staff volunteered to move into the hostel to act as live in support workers to ensure that all residents continued to receive support and equally the Housing First Team have been working long hours to ensure the people they support continue to have access to them.

'Someone said to me last week that I must be looking forward to things getting back to the way they were. My simple answer is no, I do not want to go back to where we were. I have seen incredible selfless acts of kindness both inside and outside of work that we must not lose.

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'Caring for each other, helping our neighbours and showing that we can get people off the streets is something we must desperately hold onto.

'If there is any good to come out of this it must be that we all rethink the way we live, treat each other and acknowledge all those staff and volunteers that have historically been overlooked and taken for granted. All I hope is that our memories do not fade too quickly, and we put some real care and compassion back into a fractured world.'