BROMSGROVE’S Basement Project received a royal seal of approval when HRH The Duke of Kent visited its Hanover Street base today.
The Duke was given a tour of the charity which helps those aged between 18 and 25 who are homeless or facing homelessness.
He spoke to staff, volunteers and those who had been helped through the services offered by the organisation.
Among them were Tristan Etheridge and James Cook.
Tristan said: “When I was 19 I got in with the wrong people and my life was going off the rails.
“I saw the Basement Project’s sign and asked for help, they were non-judgemental and gave me the support I needed.
“Without that help my life could have taken a very different turn.”
The Basement provided Tristan with food parcels and helped him find a job as a pot washer and he worked his way up to become a chef at Bromsgrove’s David Lloyd fitness centre.
From there he went to the Hartlebury-based Taphouse Brewery where he is now a company director having gone through the ranks of chef and kitchen manager.
“It is great to see how the Basement Project has grown – there needs to be more places like this because there are so many people who need help.”
James was homeless at 15 and the Basement helped him find accommodation at a halfway house.
When that closed the charity assisted him in finding a flat in Charford.
“I am dyslexic and they supported me with my reading and writing which led to me getting a job.”
James now works for Bromsgrove District Council, helping set up the High Street market stalls.
“I am 32 now and have been living in my flat for several years but I still come here for help from time-to-time and they are always there for people who need them.”
As well as operating its drop-in service and foodbank, the Basement helps its clients with finding and staying in accommodation, job applications and CVs, budgeting and even learning to cook cost-effective healthy and nutritious meals.
The Duke said: “What they do here should be greatly applauded – it’s wonderful.
“They are providing a very valuable service to help a lot of vulnerable people.”
Jackie Hooper from the Basement Project said: “This royal visit has been a fantastic occasion for us – not many organisations get an opportunity like this.
“It is great that what we do here has been recognised in this way.”
The Basement Project was launched 20 years ago and started out in the basement of the town’s Methodist Centre.
It moved to its current base in Hanover Street six years ago and over the years has helped 3,000 young people across North Worcestershire.
Visit bromsgrovebasementproject.org.uk for more on the Basement Project and the help it provides.