Two charity workers have been awarded prestigeous travel fellowships to look at ways to combat homelessness.
John Harrison, of South Shields, will travel to Belgium, Canada, Italy, Norway and The Netherlands to investigate how involvement in farming practices can improve wellbeing.
Graham Ord, of Whitburn, will travel to Central Florida to explore how joint commission can help when issuing services to tackle homelessness.
Both trips have been made possible by Churchill Fellowship grants.
Mr Harrison, executive lead for homeless charity Emmaus North East will use his findings to implement a project in the UK aimed at supporting homeless people’s mental health and offering them pathways back into employment.
The 41-year-old said: “I worked in farming for about eight years in Northumberland. I think a lot of people who are homeless would benefit from the opportunities and engagement with farming.
“There’s something about working with nature and animals that can be good for your wellbeing.
“I really hope I can bring something back which will make a difference.”
Mr Ord, 50-year-old RAF veteran, has worked for charity Changing Lives in Sunderland for two years.
He’ll embark on a four-week trip on May 23 to look into how the area, which includes three counties and three big cities, uses joint commissioning to tackle homelessness.
On his return, Graham hopes to lobby councils and non-profit organisations to take a joined-up approach to reducing homelessness in the Tyne and Wear and the rest of the UK.
The idea of joint commissioning will see all six areas join together to commission and provide services.
He said: “People say why should a Newcastle resident pay for a homeless person in Gateshead.
“But in Central Florida this is something they’ve got over. Homeless people move around and they turn up in different places.
“It’s about looking at who’s best at providing a certain service and get them to do it area wide.
“I think it could change the way we do things.
Julia Weston, chief executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust said: “Churchill Fellows are inspiring individuals who scour the world for fresh approaches to today’s crucial issues.
“It’s a unique chance to make change happen, and every UK citizen over the age of 18 can apply. The next round of applications will open on 16 May 2019.”
The next chance to apply for a Churchill Fellowship opens on 16 May 2019 and includes new categories on ‘Palliative and end of life care’ and ‘Physical activity: making moves for healthier lives’. Application details are online at wcmt.org.uk.