Pivot

Beautiful jewellery providing employment for the homeless.

Pivot is on a mission to beautiful jewellery with a difference.

They believe everyone should be given the opportunity to pivot.

Pivot helps those experiencing homeless the opportunity to get out of temporary accommodation through making and enterprise.

They create British handmade goods with a difference. Pivot are a social enterprise which aims to alleviate long-term tenures in temporary accommodation by bringing enterprise and opportunity into hostels. They provide part-time, flexible and meaningful employment for those experiencing homelessness whilst co-designing tailored strategies to help individuals get back into work and into permanent accommodation. Every piece of jewellery bought takes their makers one step closer to their goal of leaving the hostel.

Last week I got a text from one of the makers:

“Got any lasagne’s left?” she asked.

Slightly bemused, and knowing this wasn’t for me, I wondered if this might a euphemism for an exciting purchase of some kind.

“How was your lasagne?” I asked then maker the following day, “and what is a lasagne?”

“A lasagne! You know… the Italian pasta dish”

And so it turns out that one of the residents in the hostel keeps lasagne’s in his fridge, distributing them to hungry residents desiring some food outside meal times. With breakfast usually served at 8am, and dinner at 5pm (although it is now moved to 2pm due to staff shortages over Covid), people living in the hostel, want sustenance in between. On the one hand it is genius, on the other it highlights the total lack of agency afforded to those experiencing homelessness.

Hostels in the UK quite often don’t give residents access to kitchens. At the hostel we are based at, there is a microwave in the canteen, and so ready meals such as lasagne is one of the few options available. There is also “The Hub”; the old caretaker’s flat on the fourth floor. The hub has a small kitchen, reminiscent of student halls, with an activities room next door to it. When it is open, residents love to cook their food, their mum and grandma’s recipes, salt cod, jerk chicken, frittas. With seductive smells wafting through the upstairs corridors, you’ll get swathes of people coming in, either wanting to join in with cooking, or just wanting to be fed. Having been shut for almost three months now, very excitingly it will open next week, albeit with a maximum of two people allowed in at one time, which perhaps takes away the joy of the social side of cooking, but at the very least will provide some with the opportunity to exercise their own agency through cooking their own food.

Ever since starting Pivot last year, it has always baffled me how little agency those experiencing homelessness are permitted. Even with very little money, people find amazing ways to hustle, be resilient and get through. Why not encourage an enterprising mindset? Perhaps it might just be the ticket people need to get out of this Catch-22.

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