Recycling Lives wins praise from social justice department

Recycling Lives has been featured on the Department of Work and Pensions’ website as part of  the new Government’s strategy, “Social Justice: transforming lives”, a project that aims to support disadvantaged individuals and families.

The Social Justice strategy sets out new ways to tackle poverty, exploring the root causes of socio-economic issues and promoting sustained lifestyle changes rather than simply increasing the funds dedicated to these problems. Focusing on early intervention, social investment, payment by results and multi-agency delivery, the strategy echoes many of the fundamental aspects of Recycling Lives’ approach to enacting social change, which is why one of organisation’s former Residents has been chosen to feature as a case study on the Department of Work and Pensions website.

Mark, or ‘Sparky’ as he is more commonly known, arrived at Recycling Lives after finding himself living rough on the streets, addicted to drugs and slipping back into a life of crime. He had no long-term goals and no means of realising his short-term ones; life consisted of finding somewhere warm to spend the night.

While at a hostel, Sparky heard about Recycling Lives and, although he was sceptical, decided to make contact with the organisation. He went on to spend two years at Recycling Lives’ Essex Street residential centre, undertaking a variety of work experience placements and gaining almost 40 qualifications. Sparky has secured work and accommodation and is continuing to work with the Recycling Lives team whilst living independently. He hopes to set up his own cleaning business in the near future. He intends to employ other individuals who have completed Recycling Lives’ six-step programme and pass on the benefits he has gained through his time at the organisation.

Of his time at Recycling Lives, Sparky commented:

“Recycling Lives put a roof over my head, fed me, gave me a safe environment, provided a job and helped me get all these qualifications. I’ve stuck at it and made it work. I’ve got my own flat, my mum isn’t ill from the stress and worry I caused and I’m in touch with friends who say they’ve seen a massive improvement in me.

“I’m planning to set up my own cleaning business and I want to employ other people who’ve come through Recycling Lives to run it with me. My life is so different now. I’m proof that Recycling Lives works.”

Steve Jackson OBE, founder and CEO of Recycling Lives, is keen to point out the emphasis that the organisation places on substantive change and inter-agency collaboration. He commented:

“When someone comes to the Recycling Lives centre we provide accommodation, clothing and food. We also work hard to establish a solid work ethic in our Residents. Many of the people we help come from workless backgrounds and have no qualifications, so we work with Preston College to offer education and training on-site.

“We give people the skills they need to work for our business or move on to a job outside of Recycling Lives. By having everything under one roof, we are also able to give these people the support they need to live independently in the future.  Anybody referred to Recycling Lives understands this is not just a housing option, this is a lifestyle change. We provide a pathway to full-time employment and the opportunity for people to break the cycle of dependency they are in.”

The Recycling Lives model, which is designed to be replicable within other organisations and sectors, has won significant praise from key figures in the social justice department, including Mark Fisher CBE, Director of Social Justice and John Doherty, Head of Disability and Social Justice Portfolio, who have both expressed their personal thanks to the organisation for the work it undertakes. Recycling Lives has been invited to engage with the social justice team as it progresses its strategies, which serves to underline the success of its methods.

Recycling Lives looks forward to assisting in the development of new programmes as the strategy progresses, and will continue the expansion of its charitable activities in partnership with the many reputable agencies it works with to improve the lives of those in need.