Reaching Out To The Homeless

Reaching Out To The Homeless

For many years the John Paul Centre in Grange Road, has had a deserved reputation for reaching out in a caring and non-judgmental way to the town’s most vulnerable people.  Every Saturday, the Upper Room Project is run by a team of volunteers, offering lunch and a listening ear to around 50 people who are homeless or struggling for a variety of reasons.

Now, a new project called “Positive Pathways” is building on that work.  The project is a partnership with De Paul UK, who bring their own experience and expertise, and is funded through the Church Urban Fund, via Together Middlesbrough.

Terry Doyle, Positive Pathways Development Worker talks about the project: “Sometimes people become homeless because of family break up, or where a young person’s family are at war with each other they might sleep anywhere other than the family home, which leaves them vulnerable. We meet people whose marriages have broken up or who are experiencing mental health difficulties. All these factors can lead to homelessness - it’s not all about drink and drug abuse.”

“Positive Pathways is about working with people to empower and enable them to emerge from that rut. It’s about raising aspirations and broadening horizons.”

“If we can work with them to give them a better lifestyle and raise their sense of self-worth, we’re doing a lot to change that kind of mindset and reverse the downward spiral their lives are in. The work will be carried out alongside, and in partnership with, other highly important organisations providing excellent support across the town.”

Terry, 54, is originally from South Bank, but now lives in Saltburn. He became involved in social justice issues after being involved in the Teesside punk rock scene in the late 1970s and early 80s, when widespread unemployment blighted the area. He is now a trained Spiritual Director and Benedictine Oblate with Fr. Laurence Freeman’s World Community for Christian Meditation ( He is also a qualified Therapist in various Holistic Therapies designed to enable and empower individuals to reach their potential. Terry is also a well known Tai Chi and Meditation teacher facilitating workshops and retreats across the UK, which run alongside his other main passion for working with the marginalised. Plans are underway for a series of retreats to help homeless people begin to turn their lives around.

“With the John Paul Centre being in the heart of Middlesbrough it’s become a focal point and gives us a ready-made point of contact with so many vulnerable people.

The overall aim is to establish the John Paul Centre as a support centre for some of the most disadvantaged people in the local community, including; the homeless, ex-offenders, people in extreme poverty and refugees and asylum seekers, as well as lonely, hungry people who feel abandoned by society.

Could you help to provide a safe haven and the first steps towards a new start for some of Middlesbrough’s most desperate and vulnerable people?

De Paul UK’s Nightstop Project is also based at the John Paul Centre.  The project aims to ensure that every young person has an alternative to sleeping on the streets. Nightstop pairs young people with volunteer families and individuals who have a spare room that a desperate teenager can use for a night or more. Last year it provided 12,000 nights of accommodation nationwide.

“DePaul UK have established hugely-successful Nightstop projects in other towns and are looking to extend it to Middlesbrough,” said Terry. “But it can only really expand and thrive here if it’s got the resources to respond to rising numbers of people who are experiencing homelessness.”

Many people would like to help but don’t think there’s anything they can do. But by becoming a volunteer or just by offering any food or unwanted clothing, they really can.”

To find out more Positive Pathways, contact Terry on 07436103158 or visit


Author: Barbara Edwards

Date: 11 November 2014

Terry Doyle