Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

Jan-Feb 2021 : CHANGE READ ONLINE

RECENT TWEETS

Reconnect together

November 01 2020
Pancake partner in Kentish Town: Anne-Sophie Berrayah says: “Reconnect activity slowed down during lockdown. Now that shops are reopening, we are looking forward to increasing the team of volunteers.”  © Yalding Media Pancake partner in Kentish Town: Anne-Sophie Berrayah says: “Reconnect activity slowed down during lockdown. Now that shops are reopening, we are looking forward to increasing the team of volunteers.” © Yalding Media

Anne-Sophie Berrayah talks about Reconnect, a service which aims to reconnect excluded people to their communities. Interview by Sarah Hough

Anne-Sophie Berrayah was inspired by an initiative already launched in France which became so successful that it was then replicated in Prague, Madrid and Belgium.

“Sometimes we just don’t know how to help. Home is the first need, obviously, for homeless people, however when you talk to people experiencing homelessness, they say they suffer from feeling invisible. The whole point of this project is to recreate a link to interact, hence the name Reconnect,” says Anne-Sophie.

Reconnect works with a network of shops who provide free or paid-for services. The partner shops are easily identified by a Reconnect sticker on the front door of the shop as well as stickers showing what additional services are available at that location, be it WiFi, toilets or a cup of tea.

When customers make a purchase in a partner shop, they are given the option to purchase a voucher for an unhoused person to use. The voucher can be left at the shop or given directly to a person to use at the shop. Anne-Sophie encourages people to give the voucher directly to somebody and initiate a conversation or suggests going together to use the service. This interaction is fundamental to the scheme and seeks to break down barriers and social exclusion.

One of Reconnect’s partner shops is Mind in Camden, here the voucher can be used to buy clothes, books and other items. Another partner shop is J P Pharmacy in Camden where vouchers can be used to purchase toiletries, sanitary wear or medicines. Other vouchers may be used for food or drink.

Sophie says it’s important that people aren’t labelled and for this reason no one will be asked for any details or identifying information to access the scheme.
Reconnect launched in August 2019 and has already received good feedback. Anne-Sophie says it's vital that unhoused people are aware of the service and that there are vouchers available to be used. The partner shops are currently in Kentish Town and Camden, but Anne-Sophie hopes to establish more partner services in Shoreditch as well as other London boroughs.

Anne-Sophie needs more volunteers and partner shops to widen the Reconnect network, including partners who can provide storage and hair dressing services as these have been identified as a real need for many unhoused people. Volunteers who would like to help promote the project with homeless people and develop the network of shop partners are particularly needed. Homeless ambassadors for this project are more than welcome. Reconnect also offers training for partner shops and their staff and provides ongoing support to partners including regular visits and ongoing training.

“A long-term sponsor offering printing services would be particularly helpful to increase awareness of the service with flyers, stand-up menus and posters explaining the project,” she adds.

BACK ISSUES