Dennis's story: from homelessness to success in Ponders End community
Today Dennis, 44 years old, is chatting freely and cheerily about community life in Ponders End in Enfield and all the exciting volunteering activities he’s involved with. But not so long ago, Dennis explains, he came to Ponders End with nothing and was rough sleeping in the local park.
When Dennis was homeless, sleeping in the park, a vicar from a local church spoke to him to invite him along for coffee in the mornings and eventually pointed Dennis in the right direction to get help finding housing. Dennis ended up finding out about Origin and now lives in Swan House, our Single Housing for ex-homeless residents.
He explains that he’s much happier in this new stage of his life. He feels that people respect him and he’s got lots of friends here – not only in Swan House, but throughout the wider community in Ponders End. His dad lives in Ponders End too, and he speaks gratefully about how supportive his dad has been in helping him get to where he is today.
Since moving into Swan House, he’s been seeing one of our support workers, Kimberley. He explains that Kimberley is ‘a diamond’ and that it was down to her that he got a bank account and a freedom pass. It’s a lovely example of the positive relationships that can develop between our residents and support workers.
Dennis is really active in the local community. Because of his health issues he can’t work, so he sees volunteering as the next best option. For Dennis, volunteering is a way to meet new people and to give back to a community that he says has given him so much.
He went on the sponsored walk at Forty Hall earlier this year to raise funds for Swan House residents so they can plan events for their community. The walk raised over £1200 and Origin contributed another £1000 as part of our crowdfunding campaign to build strong communities.
Frances, our Community and Volunteer Co-ordinator, who Dennis met on the sponsored walk at Forty Hall, knew that he was interested in doing some volunteering so put him in touch with Maria from Ponders End Community Development Trust. Ever since, Dennis volunteers at their café one day a week.
Dennis visited our Job Hub and with the support of Tony, one of the fantastic volunteers from the Government Digital Service, he passed a food hygiene course with flying colours!
He's also volunteered at a barbeque, on a crafts stall at a Wellbeing fair and in the residents’ committee. At the moment he’s excited about using his new food knowledge to do a ‘Come Dine With Me’ event with some of the other Swan House residents!
Dennis says the course was interesting, explaining that he learnt lots of new things about food and cooking as he left home aged 16 and was in and out of hostels so didn’t get the opportunity to cook back then.
Full of ambition, Dennis is now planning on taking the music world by storm. He explains that he writes his own rap and makes music videos – for him, making music is a way of taking ownership of what he’s been through.
It just goes to show that having the security of somewhere permanent to live, getting support from the right people and becoming part of the local community has helped Dennis to overcome difficulty and reach the amazing point he’s at today.