A pastor duo made up of married couples has opened a restaurant to raise funds to support people in need.
Stephen and Nora Ashton are licensed pastors in the Church of the Nazarene and direct the Ark Church in Bolton.
At the start of the pandemic, after meeting people who were struggling with their jobs, they formed a charity to help facilitate a supported life – Rehoboth Recovery.
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Up to eight at-risk adults have been housed by the couple at a time, but because of the cost involved, they recently opened two stores to generate more revenue.
Nora told the Manchester Evening News, “As pastors we have met many people who have been homeless, emerged from addiction, had mental health problems, had thoughts of suicide, and the like.
“The church began to house them or pay for hotels. We had a lot of people coming to us and we had a few lots that we used for church.
“We finally decided to start our own supported charity where we supported boys and provided them with shelter. It started in March 2020 and now we’re August 2021 and it’s still going on which is amazing.
“Most of the guys we had at one time were seven or eight.
“We adjust everything to suit you and your location. Many assisted living facilities have a hard and fast rule, but we’ve found that this doesn’t work for everyone because everyone is different.
“We consider each person risky and they all have individual care plans in which they have different rules. One may be that they cannot have their phone because it triggers things or they contact the wrong people.”
In the 17 months the charity runs, three people stayed a full year and Nora said there have been a number of success stories along with some who tragically didn’t make it, highlighting the need for the charity to continue it is Job.
She added, “Two guys we had with us are now at Manchester University and two guys are at work.
“Unfortunately, two who left us before they were with us for a year have died, but we are still on different trips with different guys.
“We’re trying what we can do for them. We brought them to Greece, we help them manage money, we do pastoral care, we help with driving lessons and so on.
“The only struggle is the financial side of things, we only got £ 67 per person per week to cover rent, bills, council taxes, travel and food. I don’t know how, but we did it. “
Nora and Stephen said they were in talks with Bolton Council and local MP Mark Logan to try to get more housing benefits to support program participants.
In the meantime, they have started two companies to generate more income.
Furniture discounter Revive opened in Churchgate earlier this year and a man who has been through the Rehoboth recovery program is helping with it.
Jack, who joined the program in April 2020, said, “I was homeless and they gave me a lot of personal support because I have a bad mental health.
“When I got through that and my addiction, I started talking to my family and my son.
“You have helped me with everything and have helped me get to where I am now.
“You could be helping so many more people, but finances are tough.”
In July, Stephen and Nora opened the Caribmed restaurant next door, which combines Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine.
Stephen, who is of Caribbean descent, cooks the food on a jerk pan in front of the restaurant while Nora serves customers inside.
They said, “We developed the furniture store where we got free furniture first, but it grew and we started buying furniture to resell.
“Then we developed that. We wanted to create something unique and special for the customer and let him cook authentically and originally. “
The dishes range from jerk chicken to curry goat, with various specials on different days.
Customers can use the Bolton Eats app to eat, pick up to take away or have their order delivered.
You can find more information on the Caribmed Facebook page.
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