Now more than ever, it’s important to be taking notice of your surroundings and those within your local community, finding ways to help each other and spread their messages. So when we learnt that New Balance were reintroducing their iconic 990 line beginning with the 990 V1, we wanted to touch base with a local charity and delve into the individuals who tirelessly work to bring good to our community.
The House of St Barnabas is a social enterprise and charity that works to support those affected by homelessness and aims to bring them back into long-term employment. They work with a vision of the future whereby a lasting good work environment is coupled with a secure home and provide a supportive network for those who pass through their doors. This is their end goal, to provide people with the support and training they need to find lasting paid employment.
So, to celebrate the upcoming launch of the New Balance 990 V1, we headed over to the Grade 1 listed building in the heart of Soho that House of St Barnabas calls home to sit down with our first guest, Ollie Stewart. Having been working for a youth hostel, Ollie now heads up the employment programme and ever since her first visit to the House, instantly fell in love with the place and what it was doing to give back to the community.
To learn more about The House of St Barnabas and what you can do to help, click here!
The New Balance 990 V1 will be launching in-store and online on Friday 9th July. Sizes will range from UK – UK, priced at £200.
Footpatrol: How did your journey begin with HOSB?
Ollie Stewart: I used to work for a youth hostel and one of my colleagues came here to do some recruitment. I came down with the young people who were going to go on and do an art employment program. When I came to the House I fell in love with it. I mentioned that if there was ever a job here I am going to go for it. Fortunately enough a role opened up and I got it!
FP: What was it about the House you loved so much?
OS: It marries two of my passions. Art and the eradication of homelessness or supporting people who are at risk of homelessness. I have always worked in the supporting people sector and I just felt it was perfect for me. Beautiful building and amazing people I get to work with.
FP: Would you say that basically your specific reason behind wanting to work for HOSB?
OS: Absolutely! As said, all my career choices have been based around supporting adults or young people. Working in this building as well, marrying that love of art and supporting homlessness.
FP: Could you talk to us a bit more about that marriage between your two passions?
OS: Of course. I have always loved art, working in a grade one listed building. It’s beautiful. That on its own gives me a zest of wanting to come in and work. Supporting those people who are vulnerable as well just makes me want to get and go to work everyday. Seeing people’s faces as well as they walk through the door and see the staircase is amazing. It really gives you passion to want to do your work especially with this team you have here around you.
FP: Could you tell us in a bit more depth what your role is within the House?
OS: We run an employment program that participants do lasting 8-10 weeks. After the program they come onto what we call progression which means we support them in getting sustained employment, London living wage, no zero hour contract, making sure we support them for a year and ensuring they pass probation. If there are any teething problems we will meet with the employer and graduate and work out any differences. We also support people with their transition from benefits into employment.
FP: What’s it like seeing people working on creating the best versions of themselves?
OS: The difference from start to finish of the program is incredible. The confidence that some end up leaving with is immeasurable. We just finished a program now and I just met with 2 of the people who graduated. The zest and the feel in them wanting to get into employing is amazing. At first when they walked through the door that confidence wasn’t there and now they are flying through the roof with CVs being sent out left, right and centre. I am so happy and honestly I cannot wait to see the results!
FP: If there was one thing you would say to people to help further encourage their support what would it be?
OS: Check out our website, look at the stories. We are always updating it. There is also a lovely little donate button if you would like to donate. Become a member! Just come in and we would love to show you around. It’s a members club with a difference.