Staff keep in touch as Growing Lives shuts its doors during the coronavirus crisis

Staff who work for an Ilkeston community project that helps former homeless people rebuild their lives say they are phoning them regularly to check on their welfare after it was forced to close its doors during the coronavirus outbreak.

Growing Lives, based in Grenville Drive, Cotmanhay, acts as a lifeline for around 50 people who visit throughout the year to work alongside others and learn new skills, such as gardening, woodworking and cooking.

The project is run by Derby social landlord Derventio Housing Trust, which reluctantly took the decision to close it last month as part of its efforts to help the UK restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

But it is all too aware of how important the project is to the well-being of its participants, many of whom have overcome issues such as drug or alcohol misuse, domestic violence and mental health and who benefit from being with others, the mentoring they receive from the staff and the boost in self-esteem that they get from learning a new skill or hobby.

As a result, staff are making sure they’re staying in contact with them in a bid to ensure they do not feel socially isolated.

Jackie Carpenter, assistant director of Derventio Housing Trust, said: “As an organisation we have put in place many new initiatives right across our range of services to ensure that the people we work with continue to have their needs met during the lockdown.

“We know all too well how important Growing Lives is to its participants and how its closure could be having an adverse effect on them, which is why we are keeping in contact with everybody by phone.

“We all hope that the restrictions are over as soon as possible, but in the meantime we are working alongside a whole number of organisations working with people experiencing homelessness, all of whom are going the extra mile in very difficult circumstances.”

The Trust, which is marking its 10th anniversary and offers supported accommodation to around 600 people across Derbyshire, the Midlands and the South West, is also handing out antibacterial wipes and disposable paper roll to residents, as well as offering advice and ensuring that they have essential supplies such as medication and food.

If anyone would like to support Derventio during this challenging time, they can make a quick and easy online donation at

Picture shows: Growing Lives community project participant Danny (left), with workshop manager Vitor Azevedo. The scheme has had to close its doors due to the coronavirus but staff are keeping in touch with participants regularly by phone.


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