Contents

The People We Serve

Marah reaches out to people in need and our aim is to continue this work, providing fellowship to greater numbers and providing support in a non-judgemental, welcoming framework. We work with people on the margins of society; those who are excluded from the everyday, positive experiences of life due to their circumstances, life history and others' perception of them.

The issues presented by our clients include:

  • Homelessness - including street homeless people and those staying with friends
  • 'Sofa-surfing' - sleeping on sofas or floors at several different places
  • Insecure and poor standard accommodation - including Bed and Breakfast
  • Addictions - including drugs, alcohol, gambling
  • People recovering from addiction
  • Mental Health - ranging from depression/anxiety to bipolar disorder
  • Physical health - from people with disabilities to those with long-term medical conditions: e.g. chronic asthma, heart/vascular disease
  • Isolation/loneliness - linked to support needs as above: exclusion from mainstream and lack of confidence

Many people present with a combination of the above issues. Marah's ambition is to build on our service and our ability to have a positive effect on the lives of all who come to us.

Why Marah makes a difference

Marah is proud to have made a difference in the lives of marginalised people. Our experience and knowledge gives us the confidence and drive to extend our support to more people in the community who are in need.

Provision of care and compassion

Marah's success in our current service provision is driven by the commitment of all involved to improve and enrich the lives of all those who access our services. Volunteers, trustees and paid staff work together to ensure an effective delivery of service partnered with a non-judgemental approach. Their dedication is informed by Marah's Christian ethos of care, compassion and acceptance of everyone who comes to us for assistance whatever their circumstances.

Provision of open access

The Drop-in service is an 'open door' which means that people can come and go as they please during opening times and there is no need for an appointment to join us for a meal or to talk to a casework volunteer.

Assistance of broad client group

Alongside the 'open-door' policy is our willingness and ability to work with people with a wide range of support needs. Marah does not have any specific criteria for people to access our services and as a result we tailor our support accordingly, which means some clients will receive intensive long-term advice and support while others will dip in, as and when they need help. The broad range of issues that people present with has been detailed above.

Volunteer-led services

Volunteers are key to Marah Trust and the services we provide. Our volunteers have a variety of skills and experience and each one makes a unique contribution. By giving their time, skills and energy for free, they help foster a welcoming feeling of family and community that most of our clients do not have in their daily lives.

Specialist advocacy support

Our advocacy work is provided by volunteers and ranges from assistance with completing forms to accessing treatments for addiction. Marah provides a high level of support when it is needed - e.g. a volunteer will accompany a client to appointments. Our volunteer caseworker will also maintain regular contact with casework clients who are struggling to cope, which gives them the re-assurance and confidence needed for them to resolve their issue.

Homelessness Prevention

For those with some form of accommodation, whether this is a private tenancy, bed and breakfast or council/housing association tenancy, access to our casework support assists in the maintenance of that accommodation. We have helped to resolve welfare benefits problems, such as housing benefit and rent arrears issues, including weekly top-up payments. This work is key to ensuring that people do not become homeless. It must also be noted that the relationships we build with our clients are instrumental in ensuring that people do not fall into a crisis situation that may result in them losing their home. They know they can talk to our caseworker or another volunteer regarding any concern and we can support them to resolve the issue.

History

Marah was founded in August 2001 by a group of six concerned members of Stroud's John Street Baptist Church. Their aim then, as now, was to help the growing numbers of Stroud's men and women who are marginalised by society. When the Drop-in started attendance was around twelve people per session. We now regularly see approximately thirty five people per drop-in session. Marah now has a team of more than forty volunteers with involvement and support coming from most of Stroud's Churches. No apologies are made for Marah being a Christian organisation; on the contrary, Marah is proud that Stroud's Churches are putting aside denominational differences and working together to fill a very apparent gap in our community. It is increasingly recognised that faith groups such as Marah can have a significant positive impact in reducing drug related crime and combating anti social behaviour.


Founder member of Marah, Marjorie Phelps