The Upper Room is a front line charity, based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. It began as a simple soup kitchen in 1990 and it still attends to the immediate survival needs of its beneficiaries but it uses the provision of food as the first point of contact with the excluded and then gives them access to two internal employability projects (UR4Jobs & UR4Driving) and a broad range of onward referrals to other specialist organisations.
The charity’s mission statement is ‘improving lives’. All of its services are delivered for free and its two step strategy attends to the immediate, interim and long term life chances of the beneficiaries.
UR4Meals feeds 90-120 people, five days a week, as well as providing free clothing and bedding, volunteer opportunities, support with health and housing, onward referrals and reconnection services. In 2011/12 it served over 29,000 meals, provided over 2,000 toiletries and supplied nearly 300 sleeping bags to 600 people.
UR4Jobs is a pioneering and Big Lottery funded multilingual employment support service, largely for unemployed Central and Eastern Europeans. It aims to break the circuit of un-employability and homelessness among 300 beneficiaries a year by providing a personalised mix of administrative expertise, entry level skills training, motivational courses, bilingual counselling and access to legitimate jobs. It also provides literacy, numeracy and job searching facilities to the ex-offenders from UR4Driving.
UR4Driving is a prize-winning and Big Lottery funded project. It aims to reduce recidivism among 30 young ex-offenders a year by teaching them to drive in return for voluntary work and then treating their new driving licences as vocational qualifications for work in transport and warehousing. Since its launch in 2010, over 150 people with an offending history have or are still enrolled and only 3 have reoffended after passing their Driving Tests.