The AGM 2015: Reporting on recovery

The large dining-room at Linden Grove – once a church hall – and the balcony overlooking it were packed to overflowing on Tuesday night for this, the 24th Annual General Meeting of Kairos Community Trust. Residents past and present, staff, trustees, volunteers, our extended families and friends were welcomed by Hanora Morrin, chair of Trustees.The keynote speech was given by Dave Carroll, deputy manager of Bethwin Road residential rehab, who reflected on his own long journey through recovery. As he talked about addiction as an “illness of disconnection” and how the mission at Bethwin is to “reconnect” clients, there were nods of recognition – and connection.

Hanora gave a summary of accounts (click, top right, to download the Annual Report), and thanked the Holy Ghost fathers for their assistance in the purchase of two more move-on houses this year. And she thanked, too, financial controller Oye Oke and administration manager Dorothy Woodward-Pynn. The end of formal business was marked by a complete change of gear as Robert performed his own rap composition, “Come follow me, come follow me, this is my road to recovery”, to great and rowdy applause.

Rob is one of 102 former servicemen who have come to Kairos through Veterans Aid since 2008. Phil Rogers of VA was unable to attend but sent us a letter that Chris Williams read to the AGM. “A hugely diverse group of people make up this pool of 102 veterans – from young men who left the services after a few weeks in basic training to Oxford-educated colonels,” wrote Phil. “Where many organisations do the ex-service community a great disservice by looking upon them as one homogenous group who all think and need the same things, Kairos has treated each and every one of our men and women as individuals with their own unique history, experiences, and support needs. The quality of this support is matched by their other great strength – the Kairos community. How this has been cultivated over the years has been quite invaluable to our clients … It has been a real pleasure to work so closely with all of the staff at Kairos, and a hugely powerful experience to see our guys transform under their watch … I look forward to seeing many more hugely talented people unlock their potential and transform their lives thanks to the support they receive from this organisation.”

Mossie Lyons, Kairos director, welcomed Fr John Kitchen, co-founder of Kairos, and thanked Fr John’s Spiritan confrères for all their support. Mossie reviewed the achievements of the past year, which reflected what he described as the “balance between social heart and commercial mind” that is essential to the health and success of Kairos as a charity – “one will not do without the other”. The creative collaboration in which Kairos residents worked with Hanna Benihoud and Zohra Chiheb of architects Levitt Bernstein in the summer to make the City of Stories project is still spreading its message about homelessness. CRASH, the construction industry’s charity, has once again given Kairos outstanding help in turning supported housing into homes for men and women in recovery. And it was also a year of practical generosity and spirituality. Gemma O’Driscoll ran a marathon for us and the Dulwich Catenians and friends held a charity golf day for Kairos. And 27 people from Kairos travelled to Lourdes to help with the sick on the annual Oblate pilgrimage.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the AGM, Gianpierro Mozzi for his evocative guitar playing; Lorraine Beckford, acting manager of Linden Grove; Julie Kingsun Dale and Nick Koldhar for raffle-ticket duty. And, as we all know, AGM stands for Another Great Meal – so thank you to Sandra Ginnelly and her team for a brilliant buffet.