Phase - 2018 Variety Express beneficiary

What's our story?

Like all things we began small in 2002. Churches Together in Hitchin (CTH) campaigned, prayed and fundraised to employ our first Schools Worker. In the beginning, we opened with a vision to provided RE lessons, assemblies and lunch groups as an opportunity to be the face of CTH within Hitchin schools. We started with a focus on Hitchin Boys School and began building a solid foundation and reputation for the organisation.

Over the next few years our reputation grew and in late 2006 we received a large anonymous donation. Enter our new Director. With this new momentum, we were able to extend our work into all three Hitchin secondary schools and increased our provision to schools which included mentoring students and delivering 6th form enrichment programmes.

In 2008 we took over the chairing of the Forum and together we had our very first residential - Slum Survivor. A fantastic weekend involving 36 young people from local churches and schools, where we lived in slums, experienced poverty and managed to raise over £3000 for Soul Action.
We pick up speed in the next few years and extend our work into primary schools, working with year 6's to help them navigate the transition to secondary school. We also increase our range of work within secondary schools to include key issues such as self-harm. Our work with the Forum continues and develops with regular town-wide events, summer camps and Time Trek our holiday club for primary school children as well as regular training for youth and children's workers called Fuel.

In April 2015 we welcomed two of our wonderful volunteers onto our staff team. Amanda Maylin as our Office Manager and Donna Wade as our Self-harm worker.

In Sept 2016 we made a few changes to our model and we gained two new staff members. One Schools and Youth Worker (shared with Walworth Road Baptist church) to further our connection and work within the community and a Wellbeing Developmental lead to help us develop our new promote strategy within schools. We now work within and alongside nearly all the schools within Hitchin (Primary and secondary).

And we're just getting started...


Feed Up, Warm Up

Feed Up Warm Up is the most amazing new initiative started by one amazing guy, Shane Cole, who found that through his own experience of being homeless at age 17 (totally dependant on drugs) managed to turn his life around, and with his experience, strength and hope he created “Feed Up Warm up” to give back to the heart of our homeless community.

Feed Up Warm Up is a testament to what a community can do when it comes together. With his background in catering Shane began a drive to open a soup-kitchen in Hitchin during the winter of 2018/19. Support piled in from all quarters and Feed Up Warm Up went from strength to strength.

They have been open for hot food, food bank services, hair cuts, healthcare and both the mental and emotional wellbeing of their clients every week ever since.

Let’s get to the hearts of our Herts homeless and make a difference.. to coin a phrase... every little really does help!

For more information check out their website www.feedupwarmup.co.uk

LifeGeta - 2018 Variety Express beneficiary

What is Lifegeta?

Lifegeta is a support network for all types’ people with life changing acquired conditions & diagnosis and their family, carers & friends.

We look at the emotional effects of finding yourself in a body that doesn’t do what it used to do because of a life changing condition or disability (like brain injury or stroke) or diagnosis (like MS or fibromyalgia and depression).

We’re told that physical exercise is good for your mental and emotional health, but what if your body can’t exercise!

At Lifegeta we believe that talking, discussion, self development groups and workshops can make a difference in getting 'YOU' back on track.

We have monthly meetings and are on Facebook & Twitter

I truly believe that YOU have to be emotionally ready before you can be expected to 'fight' for your rights (like benefits etc.)
The motive behind starting a ‘Disability and how to survive it’ type group, is that for years after my stroke I struggled to 'adapt' to my new life as a disabled' person (inside 'I' was screaming 'I'm Sue! I'm still in here', but on the outside I felt like people only seemed to see a person, or should I say a 'symptom in a wheelchair'. That's one of the main reasons I decided to retrain as a counsellor, coach, trainer, it helped me and if I can enable people to get past the plateau/ depression that may come after sudden disability then it's all been worthwhile. ~ Sue Ross (Lifegeta Founder)

Some of the issue that we look at are:

Anxiety, Panic & Fear of trying because of the fear of failure fear of finding yourself in a body that feels alien to you: the fear connected with the belief that ‘you can’t do what you used to’, the fear of not feeling in control of your own future, feeling that you’ve had to hand over your life to others because you can no longer physically do things. The fear of going out because of being in crowds and the fear of falling. The fear of it happening again. Toileting (one of mine, I remember thinking “26 and I can’t even hold my own bladder!”… The list is endless in a way, but it depends on the group dynamics to account their fears. Face the fear and do it anyway!

Self Esteem – this is an area that seems to get wiped out when you suddenly find yourself ‘un-able’. Self-doubt is a big factor in believing what ‘you do’ is important to your mental state and therefore your recovery.

Self Confidence – being outwardly confident in your abilities and your belief that you can make a difference.

Self-esteem is internal feelings, and self-confidence is the outward expression of those feelings. For instance, you may know that you are really smart. Internally, you process this fact and gain self-esteem in the area of knowledge

Understanding what’s going on, and challenging stereotypes ‘why am I like this?’ – With the help of two outside speakers in Brain Injury and Mental health.
“I believe that knowledge and self-development is a key factor in being able to move forward” ~ Sue

Above & Beyond Cancer Foundation

Above & Beyond Cancer Foundation was founded in October 2013 by Karen Chin & Jayne Proctor and was born out of their own experiences with a cancer diagnosis.

Both Karen & Jayne were 41 and 37 respectively when diagnosed with Breast Cancer in May 2009. Karen & Jayne met on a national breast cancer forum and found out that they only lived 10 minutes from each other and decided to meet for a coffee. Over many chats, they would discuss the resources/support available to them, however, it became apparent that most of these were available in the hospitals where they were being treated. They decided that they wanted to put something in place that meant patients and their loved ones could access this support and wellbeing closer to home.

How Above & Beyond Cancer Foundation can help those going through a cancer diagnosis:

  • Offer a safe, confidential and friendly listening ear outside of the hospital environment
  • Opportunity to talk through experiences that affect ‘the working generation’ and the decisions that need to be faced in a 1:1 setting.
  • To signpost and give support to family members and friends as cancer does not just affect one individual
  • Fund Holistic/Complementary Therapies, as well as organising and fully funding Pamper & Wellbeing Days twice a year to promote health and well being for patients and their loved ones.

For more details visit their website: www.above-beyond.org.uk

Our new producers, Lee and Dawn Perrott also have their own dance school!

They teach Ballroom, Latin and Street dance and can even cheoreograph your wedding dance!