Joy Hobbs – Many Thanks!

As many of you will know by now, Joy Hobbs, sadly, stood down from WTRRP in March.

Joy joined WTRRP in 2009 and soon after became a member of the Committee, under the Chairmanship of Richard Kendall. Joy gradually took over the work of WTRRP’s effective founder Lawrie Coe, who wanted to retire and who – despite the label of Honorary Secretary – in fact conducted much of the then Project`s work, particularly with clients.

She and her late husband Tony initially took on the task of placing our administration and record keeping on to a firm footing, and Joy set up the befriending scheme that forms the core of our service to our clients today.

Joy was also aware that our clients could be very alone – often having moved to the area without aid of friends or other support – and in October 2009, held the first WTRRP party in her own back garden. This has of course become the basis of the three to four parties and other social activities that we now hold every year, and Joy was a vigorous and enthusiastic organiser of these for many years.

At various times Joy has taken the roles of volunteer recruiter, Volunteer Coordinator and most recently Casework Coordinator. For a considerable period, she and Tony did all the packing and distribution of the food that WTRRP supplies to its clients, with Joy eventually negotiating and helping implement our partnership with the Watford Foodbank.

Joy’s enthusiastic and energetic casework sets the example by which we still try to run WTRRP. Under her leadership, we started to help our clients financially with application fees: not least because the sums of money required were hiked significantly by a series of governments, pushing application well out of reach of the average WTRRP client. She attended hearings of the then UK Border Agency as applicant’s ‘friend,’ but actually provided strong advocacy in many cases. This was also true of her many negotiations with Social Services: in many case WTRRP clients’ only income is statutory child benefit, and in many cases this has to be fought for – especially in these times of government austerity. On one notable occasion Joy arranged for and accompanied two clients and a number of children by train to attend an appeal hearing in Birmingham. As a retired and very experienced Health Visitor she had and still has a deep love of children.

The Drop-In Centre was also effectively implemented by Joy. Starting as an idea at a Committee brainstorming day, Joy was the one to find a venue and make this happen, including finding a solicitor to provide initial advice, and organising a Drop-In Coordinator and other roles there.

Finally, Joy was a vociferous advocate for WTRRP to anyone and everyone – ‘gossip the Project’ was her very appropriate phrase!

As you may have heard, Joy was very ill last year, requiring a course of painful and debilitating treatments. Undeterred, she continued to support others to whom her multiple roles had been assigned, and we owe her a great debt of gratitude:

Without Joy, WTRRP might well not have survived to become the robust organisation it is today.