Beeston charity New Hope has sadly closed its doors after 16 years service to the local community. The small organisation, based at the Nazarene Church on Hunslet Hall Road, has since 1999 provided wide-ranging support for people battling drug and alcohol addiction – but has now called it a day.
Originally formed in response to the deaths of two local residents who were struggling with addiction, at a time when there were much fewer drug and alcohol projects in the city, it very quickly ballooned – within weeks of starting, dozens of people were attending their weekly Sunday lunch drop-ins.
A charity was formed, under the slogan ‘Compassion enabling freedom from addiction’ – and their work expanded to become a week-round programme. This has over the years included: allotmenting, sports (including some top-quality pool-playing!), food, volunteering (especially at their dedicated charity shop, open since 2009 round the back of the Beeston Coop store), computing, and – underpinning it all – a lot of mentoring and love from the team.
Over the 16 years, 2000 people have passed through the project, most from south Leeds – each one battling issues such as homelessness, unemployment, poverty, sexual exploitation, mental health issues, and more. But times have changed, and the past year has seen numbers tail off – partly it seems due to the emergence of other agencies, and changes in government policy.
So the charity’s trustees and team earlier this year decided to wind down the organisation, and last Sunday (20th December 2015) held a final session – attended by dozens of people who had been part of the project, past and present. And current project participants are now being supported to find alternative provision.
Alistair Park has – with his wife Yvette – led New Hope since its formation. He commented:
“The past 16 years have been a privilege. It’s been both testing and rewarding, a mix of highs and lows. But the joy is having met so many damaged people, and seeing them turn their lives around. Many thanks to all who’ve supported us on this amazing journey.”
For more info on drug and alcohol services in Leeds, click here.