New Hope (previously known as Watford New Hope Trust) was founded in 1990 by two self-styled ‘ordinary house-wives’, Janet Hosier and Sheila Meaning (pictured above), who saw the many people sleeping rough around St Mary’s Church in the centre of Watford and felt moved to act. Entertaining Angels – their inspiring story – is available to buy here or from any of our shops.
The official launch of New Hope was on 23rd March 1990 at ‘the coaches’ – two old coaches which had been converted into soup kitchens. You can see some footage from the day - watch the video.
Situated on the site of an old banana factory on Whippendell Road (now the home of the Haven Support Centre), the coaches had a counter, a hob and some benches. Teams of volunteers served soup, hot drinks and sandwiches to those in need. Then, as now, there was a strong emphasis on offering friendship and a listening ear alongside practical support.
Today, New Hope is one of the largest providers of homelessness services in the Home Counties, housing up to 60 people every night and supporting hundreds more every year. We now offer a range of accommodation services, the purpose-built Haven Support Centre has long replaced ‘the coaches’ and our development services help people break free from the cycle of homelessness.
Although we have grown, our heart has not changed. We are still very much a local charity dependent on the community for volunteers and financial support. To find out how you too can be part of the New Hope story, please click here.