Among the services available at Deptford Reach are counselling, debt support, benefits advice, meals and laundry services, alcohol and drug support, and employability skills. All of this supports their clients, who are often homeless and in crisis. Tinder Foundation’s Reboot UK project has helped Deptford Reach to embed digital skills in the way that they deliver support.
Sal Limpeshah was homeless when he first went into Deptford Reach. They’ve helped him sort out accommodation and his benefits, and he’s now spending time building his computer skills by looking for work.
Sal says: “The Jobcentre are always pressuring you to go online and stuff. But I just wasn’t there. If you’re broke on one side, you’re struggling, you’re desperate, you’re just not in the right place. I just wanted to do what they wanted me to do to get through. It felt like there was always a finger pointing at you, so you’re always on the defensive. Here it’s not like that. You can come in and have a chat, and just relax and unwind. You don’t have that fear of being judged or being stereotyped.”
It took a bit of persuasion to get Sal onto the computers. The Reboot UK peer mentor programme at Deptford Reach has enabled Sal to get regular one-to-one support, which made all the difference.
“I wasn’t that great with computers, but I gradually started picking things up,” says Sal. “I could do things like YouTube and stuff like that but I had a fear about the job searching thing, and I really just needed a bit of extra help. Some jobs require a certain level of IT skills, and all the companies require slightly different things. Simple things like saving stuff, uploading a CV, writing covering letters for different jobs. It helped working with someone sat down next you to take you through it all. They try and encourage you to be independent, but they’re always looking after you.
“It’s very good, I think. For me it’s been confidence building. It’s been an opportunity for me to grow, change, concentrate on my personal development. I feel much more like I’m in control now. Every time I get a response or an interview it’s helping me kind of improve every day. I haven’t got a job yet, but I’m sure with the way things are going definitely something will come up."
Sal has started to think a bit differently about work. He researches different local companies, and is currently looking for permanent warehouse and factory roles that can offer him security in the long term. In the meantime, Sal is thinking about becoming a peer mentor himself.
He says: “Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to help other people, too. I’ve seen the benefits of what it’s done for me, so I can encourage others to give it a go - pass what I’ve learned onto someone else. If I can learn it, anyone can, because we all have the same fears to overcome.”