Saturday, 18 July 2015

CANAAN TRUST [Formerly The Aspire Trust]

As the work of the trust is celebrating its 20th anniversary, Dean Anderson gives the website extra exclusive insight into the trust’s beginnings from his book ‘EXTRACTS FROM AN ORDINARY LIFE’

From 1990 to 1992 Lynnette, my wife, and me were working as church leaders on the Meadows in Nottingham. We had a full community programme that included a Friday Night Youth Club. I also visited some of the hostels in the city that cared for the homeless.

In 1992 we were asked to engage in the work of a local church in Long Eaton with particular emphasis on youth and community. We were excited about this but sad to leave the work in the Meadows.

With the help of a great team, the youth work in Long Eaton developed quickly and different avenues opened up to us. We worked with Derbyshire County Council Youth Team and with Erewash Borough Council. Many schools locally invited us to take assemblies and to hold discussions on all sorts of subjects including faith.

In 1995 our volunteer team had developed to such a point that some of the team were released to engage in outreach work on West Park. This particularly happened on a Friday night.

In the early Summer of that year it became apparent to us that a small group of young men had no home to go to. We were greatly surprised to find that there were homeless people sleeping rough in Long Eaton. We talked to them about the reasons why they were homeless and found the reasons wide ranging.

One particular individual had lost both his parents and had been evicted from the family home because he hadn’t been able to manage living by himself. I was disturbed by this situation and made an appointment to speak to the Erewash Housing Officer.

After our meeting I was even more disturbed as the officer related the issues in Erewash and a particular need for young men to find accommodation.

At the next meeting of the church leadership I explained what we had discovered. I expressed my desire to want to do something about their plight. It was clear to me as someone who loved God, that God wanted us to do something for them. The meeting agreed for me to look at what we as a church could do.

It wasn’t long before we had gained charitable status for The Aspire Trust. Tony Shaw, Jill Williams, Gary Wilds and me worked tirelessly to form the trust that would pave the way for the first place in Long Eaton to specifically help young homeless men.

Our first property was some five months away, and in late Summer 1995 something happened that would catapult this work further.

I had a phone call from the Erewash Housing Officer asking if we had managed to secure a property. I explained our position, then, he went on to relate the story of Kenny. I knew Kenny from our Friday night outreach work.

Kenny had received some 30% burns after an incident of sleeping rough in a skip right in the centre of Long Eaton. Nottingham City Hospital could not release him because he had no home to go to. I felt frustrated that we were not in a position to help Kenny.

I prayed.

That evening I sat with Lynnette and our two sons, Michael and Nathan. I told them about Kenny’s situation. We agreed as a family that we wanted to help but that would mean one of our lads would give up their bedroom so Kenny could come and stay.

On the 16th September 1995 I drove to Nottingham City Hospital to collect Kenny. He had a small but comfortable bedroom. He lived with us for three months.

Three months that would see the Aspire Trust acquire its first property through the generosity of a dear couple in the church. A host of volunteers who fund-raised and gave of their practical skills and expertise and a supportive church who got behind the project, enabled a fast tracking of what we believed was a God given project.

Kenny moved in to the Trust’s first property just before Christmas 1995. The two other places were quickly taken. The project had begun.

Taken from ‘Extracts From An Ordinary life’ by Dean Anderson
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