Jean Lawton, Operational Manager at Rothesay Court

When The Gingerbread Centre started over 40 years ago there may have been the thought it may not still be delivering services today. I feel very proud it is and proud of its journey that has got it to the place it is today.

The journey started in a small terrace house in Cobridge and it now boasts two accommodation units Rothesay Court and Catherine Court. Who supported the journey? The people who started it and those who worked here. The people who had the passion and commitment to support the hundreds of families over the years often giving their own time to make a difference to families lives. The volunteers who have given their time, our funders  and the general public and businesses who have given donations, to help Gingerbread during its journey supporting parents. Without you all we would not have done it and we could not still keep going forward. There are so many people to thank for their generosity.

How has it changed over the years? I can’t go back 40 years but I can go back 20 years to the time I started working at Gingerbread. Families have much better accommodation. From a small room with a shared bathroom in an old building to what is now a self -contained flat in more suitable accommodation to meet a family’s needs.

The support that is offered is different too. It is more focused on what a family may need. Parents have the opportunity to attend groups and courses and we are having great feedback from parents who are attending the courses delivered by the Mother Project. Yoga is proving very popular and is great for people’s well-being and is something different for parents to be involved in. The Activity Club where parents and children can spend time together and have fun is a homely and a happy place for children to be and to spend quality time with their parent and siblings.

Homelessness can happen to anyone. That is a scary thought isn’t it? I believe it is ‘Shelter’ who says one in three working people are only one pay cheque away from homelessness. We all want a safe place to live and for it to be a happy home. We all want somewhere where we feel we belong and perhaps a chance to make changes in our lives, have healthy and loving relationships, have a better future for ourselves and our children despite the hardship and adversity we may sometimes face. We may want to gain some control over our lives and find the strength, courage and resources to pursue our dreams.

People who are homeless want that too. People are no different, the families we support want opportunities. Everyone should have a safe and stable home and at Gingerbread families have the opportunity to reach their aspirations with the support that is offered by the staff members. We have a great team of staff who are passionate about the service we deliver.