Why business bosses are being urged to give job opportunities to the homeless

Businesses are being urged to help change the lives of homeless people and those recovering from addiction by offering them jobs.

By Ian Hirst
Monday, 17th January 2022, 7:00 am
Natalie Wells, general manager of the Howarth Foundation, right, with Andy Howarth, who founded the charity, left, at the Hidden Owls shop.
Natalie Wells, general manager of the Howarth Foundation, right, with Andy Howarth, who founded the charity, left, at the Hidden Owls shop.

The Howarth Foundation has been working with the homeless and recovering addicts since 2017, helping to break the cycle of living on the streets by getting people into work.

Natalie Wells, general manager of the Howarth Foundation, told The Yorkshire Post: “We need businesses to come forward and help change a life.

“It is a big ask for a business owner to do that – but it’s so

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rewarding.”

The charity, set up by Cleckheaton-based HR and employment-law firm Howarths, uses its expertise to help take businesses through the process of employing people who have had challenged lives.

It has so far helped 27 people into employment, a further 34 into training, got nine people volunteering and has referred 18 people into housing.

One of those it is currently working with is recovering addict Emma-Louise. She found herself homeless five years ago after a lifetime of addiction.

The 39-year-old said: “Two years ago I came into recovery and started going to meetings.

“It was somebody in one of those meetings that told me about the Howarth Foundation, that they could help me get back into work and help me get qualifications.”

Emma-Louise’s problems with addiction started when she was around 13. Her main choice of street drugs was heroin and crack cocaine.

“I’ve been off street drugs since February,” Emma-Louise said. “Even though I’ve been in recovery for two years, I did relapse a couple of times. It’s a hard process.”

She is happy with the progress she has made and has also been off the methadone programme for nearly three months. The foundation has been working with her since May this year.

Emma-Louise has been volunteering at the charity’s Hidden Owls second-hand shop in Armley, Leeds, which the Howarth Foundation opened this year.

She said: “I’m volunteering in the shop at the moment but they’re enrolling me into college to get my qualifications, the ones I didn’t do at school and further ones to get a good job, because it’s really hard to get work when you’ve had the life I’ve had.”

When she started volunteering at Hidden Owls, Emma-Louise said she had no confidence or self esteem.

“I used to be in the storeroom, away from everyone,” she says. “I was only there a couple of days because with their support I started to get my confidence back.”

She is now looking to help people like herself and hopes to work in drug counselling.

Emma-Louise said: “We’re human at the end of the day. We’ve got addictions but we didn’t ask to be addicts. We want to live like everyone else. We just don’t know how.”

She says recovering addicts need ongoing support to help them stay away from drugs.

“It’s okay getting them into services but then they are just left to their own devices,” she said.

“We’re going to go back to the only thing we know and that is addiction. It needs to be ongoing support.”

Speaking of her own ambitions, she said: “I’ve wasted 40 years of my life. I just want what’s left to count now.”

Charity wants more to help

The charity was established by Andy and Helen Howarth in 2017. Natalie Wells said: “Moving forward we need more businesses to come onboard. Covid hit a lot of businesses, not just financially but with staffing as well.

“Our Business Building Futures scheme, which prior to Covid had 30 members, dwindled to 13 and not all of them offer employment opportunities.”

The Howarth Foundation launched its own shop to ensure it has a sustainable future. Ms Wells added: “Now we’ve been able to put ten volunteers through that as a training outlet, helping them rehabilitate, reintegrate and get back into work.”