A number of our guests have shared their own stories of transformation and what Soundcafe means for them.
One of our guests has taken on board acting as a voice to campaign in respect of the Homelessness Reduction Bill and has had her comments recognised through a written letter from Edward Argar MP for Charnwood.
Another gifted musician who regularly attends SoundCafe had one of her compositions played by an orchestra in Italy and received written accolade from a representative of The Women in Music Foundation.
Five of our guests designed Christmas cards two of which were adopted and printed by the Bishop for his Christmas 2016 main card and was sent to young children of the clergy.
Ellie found out about Soundcafe at an AA meeting. The person had told the group how Soundcafe had helped him come to terms with his problems and supported him in his bid to overcome his addictions. Ellie spoke to the man (who is a regular guest) and he gave her the details of Soundcafe and urged her to attend. Ellie shared with one of our volunteer pastoral team that she felt really welcomed and returned the following week when she was visiting a friend in hospital immediately after Soundcafe as she felt it would help her to come to Soundcafe first as she would not be allowed to drink whilst in the session. She said she had been refused admission in the past to LRI due to being drunk. She shared how she felt really good all week and couldn’t wait to come back; the combination of attending AA, Soundcafe and Jehovah’s Witness meetings helped her.
Kev was an early and regular attender to SCL actively participating in the art and poetry tables. His own development focused on expressing his feelings through his drawings and poetry. He has gone on to study at Leicester College securing his level I in English and maths. His art and poetry was exhibited at the Festival – A Tapestry of Life and he read one of his own poems as part of the day. His journey with SCL has led him to publicly express his faith and share with others to support and encourage and this is re-inforced through his poetry and drawings.
Mary came to SoundCafe having met Helen Hayes at the cathedral when she was preaching. Mary had been extremely distressed because the accommodation she was living in was not only substandard but without heating and she had no food to feed her two children, David 3 and Elizabeth 5. Mary was an asylum seeker who had been trafficked by her ex-partner to sell drugs; been viciously abused during the relationship; and then brutally attacked after she escaped. Her ex-partner had been sentenced to prison and deported back to Nigeria. Mary had been through a very difficult time as she made several appeals for Leave to Remain which were refused. Each time her case was refused Mary faced losing her accommodation and financial support. This included time living in a rat infested flat and being moved to emergency accommodation in Birmingham for two weeks whilst she was rehoused.
Mary said that it was SoundCafe that kept her going as she came each week to access our services and receivesupport. Mary loves singing and in her darkest moments it is singing God’s praises that has kept her going. SoundCafe was an important part of Mary’s journey as she sought to access meaningful activity during the day. Mary has shared with us that apathy and loss of hope is what prevents asylum seekers finding a way out of their situation as well as the unjust systems in our society. SoundCafe provided a safe place to come each week where the volunteers talked to her and offered her care and compassion. She was also signposted for support elsewhere e.,g. CAB where she went to become a volunteer. Mary has been a member of the SoundCafe choir but is now attending DeMontfort University.
Mary’s experiences have made her want to train as a social worker so that she can in turn pass on the help she has received and help others who are greatly in need. Mary has attained Leave to remain for the next 20 months until her daughter is 10 and she has found a private rental house to live in. Mary has also accessed a grant that has allowed her to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Social Work which she has just started this September.
Mary attended the cathedral where she was supported and her two children were baptised there. Since moving accommodation Mary now attends St John the Baptist Clarendon Park and she has found a faithful community who provide her with immense support. Mary has recently written a thank you letter to SoundCafe as she hopefully moves into a more stable part of her life and achieves her dream of being financially secure and providing her children with a home that is settled and safe, something they have not known since the day they were born. SoundCafe has been an important part of that journey. What Mary has achieved has been nothing short of remarkable.
Simon was at the Dawn Centre receiving a food parcel and was asked to ‘pop’ along to the SoundCafe to see what happened on a Wednesday afternoon. In his words, ‘I was in a terrible place, with the imminent threat of homelessness looming and no personal contacts in Leicester. At my first meeting I met with a lady from the Samaritans who talked to me for nearly an hour, before being introduced to Helen with regards to my issues. As a Military Veteran it is sometimes difficult to open up to people, but one thing Soundcafe has told me is that the healing power of talking is immensely strong. Subsequently I was made homeless and moved into the Dawn Centre on a semi-permanent basis, and my only hope of escaping the problems associated with being homeless was to come to Soundcafe, most weeks. After five months and one week I was given a bungalow by the City Council and moved into my new property at the beginning of August 2016.’
Simon was subsequently invited to a Listening into Action meeting to do with Military Veterans. Several more meetings occurred and it soon became apparent that this project could ‘fold’ without taking off. So, working with the NHS Community Lead, Simon set up two meetings for Military veterans at the end of 2016. At the beginning of 2017
they drew up an Action Plan starting with a Military Veteran Drop in session which commenced on 3rd March 2017.
Simon has subsequently become employed as a member of the ‘bank’ staff, supporting and developing the project and is hoping that full funding will continue. Simon came back and visited SCL this Summer to share his story.