On Friday, 26th of October Devon’s High Sheriff, Grania Phillips visited Freedom with Magistrates Sarah Wilson and Janie Lock for what they called an ‘invaluable visit to the centre’ and tour of our ‘considerable and versatile facilities’.

Over the course of the afternoon visit and tour of our facilities, Freedom Community Alliance’s MD, Nigel Harris, explained the range of support services we provide. General well-being support such as access to a safe and secure space for social interaction and relaxation along with advice and assistance for accessing accommodation and housing, finding employment and signposting to agencies such as the Benefit Agency, Probation, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and healthcare providers are all provided from the Freedom Centre from Monday to Friday to anyone who needs them. The nature of our welcoming, non-judgemental environment enables us to assist around 50 people each day towards brighter futures, no matter what their current or past situation may be.

Along with this, our shower, clothing store, laundry service and free food and drink provision meet the basic necessities of some of the most vulnerable and at-risk people in our communities today. Making use of these services and facilities are often the first step to someone working towards further life stabilising resources and support that helps them to turn their life around and stand on their own feet within our communities.

Comments from Jayne Clemence who visited the centre last year were reiterated.

“The Courts in North Devon could not operate as effectively without the work and underpinning services of the Freedom Centre.”

All of these facilities and services are provided without any direct funding from the government whatsoever and wholly relies upon the generosity, donations and grants from our supporters.

This was the second visit from Magistrate Janie Lock who had been so impressed with what she had seen and heard that she felt it was imperative our work and ‘tremendous support of Probation and social services […] should be far more widely known not only throughout the judicial area and tiers but further afield as a model of what can be achieved.’

After the visit, a short piece was published in the Magistrate’s Association Bench news about the visit and the work we carry out at Freedom, along with a recommendation for all Magistrates to visit our website and make themselves familiar with the work we carry out with the vulnerable people in North Devon in order to understand how vital it is in supporting their work with vulnerable service users.