Fresh Start

Posted by editor 27/03/2014 0 Comment 3069 views

Fresh Start

Everybody needs a roof over their head but human beings have other requirements too, Jenny McBain discovers.

Edinburgh based charity Fresh Start strives to help recently housed people to create a home and to feel more connected to their community so they can make a success of their new lives.  And they have been the inspiration behind 22 similar initiatives which have sprung up across Scotland.

Practical help

Fresh start offers starter packs to equip householders with basics such as crockery, pots and pans and cleaning products.  Some people urgently need bedding or a new cooker and all these things are sourced on their behalf.  So called hit squads can be booked to come into a property and redecorate it.  All this helps to make a house a home and getting assistance soon after being given a new front door key is crucial to prevent homelessness from repeating itself. Those who get such support are more likely to sustain their tenancy

Wider Social networks

“Contact with the charity’s army of volunteers is hugely valuable to our clients” So says manager director Keith Robertson – who is a former outreach worker for the Big Issue and has been in his current post since Fresh Start was set up in 1999.  Many of the volunteers are church members and their generosity of spirit is much appreciated.  Keith says, “Homelessness impacts on a person’s sense of well being and confidence and the social contact that comes along with our services helps to alleviate a sense of isolation.  It is a short term relationship we offer our clients but one that has long term benefits.”


Donated goods are sorted in a central warehouse which is largely staffed by volunteers.   Some of these are handed directly onto clients.  Other items are reconditioned and, in some instances, sold on to finance the purchase of new household equipment.

Cookers For Christmas Appeal

Michelin starred chef Tom Kitchin is heading up a Cookers for Christmas appeal.  People are asked to give some money towards the purchase of a new cooker.  He says, “A kitchen should be at the heart of a home and what better way to help families who have been homeless than giving them the means to cook in a secure and safe environment?”


An in house business helps to bring money into Fresh Start.  Qualified staff go out to businesses and test their electrical appliances- this is called  portable  appliances  testing or PAT  Every time a business in central Scotland uses the PAT testing service, they help make someone’s life better.—commercial


Every year a number of clients secure a place on a work trainee scheme.  They learn to carry out PAT testing but, most importantly, they gain experience in the world of work.

A success story

Some people make the journey from client to volunteer.  This was the case with 24-year-old Liam Jenkins who took all the photographs accompanying this article.  He was re-housed in February after a long period of homelessness.

Having received some starter packs, Liam went on to secure a place on the work trainee scheme at which point he also picked up his camera and started recording what was going on around him.  He says, “There is a good collaborative feeling in Fresh Start.  There is a great work flow when people work together and it is good being able to have conversations in a relaxed atmosphere without thinking about my difficulties.”

About the pictures.

Liam says, “I tend to think visually and this is a play on how I felt when I was homeless.  At the time I felt that the rest of the world was in colour while I was in black and white.  By placing the volunteers in colour it symbolises the impact they have on Fresh Start’s clients.  They bring colour back into people’s lives.”

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