Our time in England is drawing to a close. I am excited to go home and see my family and pets after 10 weeks away, but I will definitely miss England. The past four weeks have flown by, and I am grateful for all of the people that welcomed us and ensured that we would have a good stay here.
Libby and I worked at Moving On, which is a charity aimed at breaking the cycle of youth homelessness in County Durham. Prior to this experience, I didn’t know much about homelessness. Our supervisor, Peter, explained to us that in County Durham, homelessness is mainly caused by lack of ability to manage a household, not lack of physical space. There are actually lots of empty housing units in County Durham, usually in former mining towns, and Moving On helps young people move into some of these towns and teaches them how to pay their bills and manage their property. Moving On employs several support workers who periodically check-in on residents and make sure they are taking care of both the property and themselves.
All of the Moving On staff were incredibly caring and nice. They helped us settle into the office, and they were patient in teaching us British words and phrases we didn’t understand. To get a better understanding of how the organization operates, we were also able to accompany several staff members on inspections and support visits. We got to meet some of the tenants, and this really helped bring Moving On’s mission to life for me. We also got to visit several towns in County Durham, including Peterlee, Horden and Blackhall. This allowed us to explore parts of County Durham we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I was able to form a better picture of the county’s economy and the impact of the mining industry that they still feel today.
While working at Moving On, I also noticed some differences between how nonprofits operate in the UK and the US. For example, Moving On is mostly funded by government aid, whereas charities in the US are primarily funded by private donations. Our project at Moving On actually consisted of coming up with different fundraising ideas since the organization wants to diversify some of their funding sources. It was cool to be able to share some ideas and reflect back on previous successful fundraisers I had taken part in back home. I hope to stay in touch with the people at Moving On, and maybe one day we will see our ideas come to life!