The second year of the Thanet Winter Shelter scheme, run by Thanet District Council and the Salvation Army, supported 35 vulnerable guests.
The shelter involved seven church halls in Margate and Ramsgate opening their doors from 1 December 2017 to 5 March 2018.
As well as providing a bed, clothes and food, a key aim of the Shelter is to better equip guests to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation and to provide practical pathways for training and employment. Unique to Thanet’s Winter Shelter is engaging with Kent’s Mental Health practitioners to ensure guests are referred to the most appropriate primary care/charity sector services for their needs.
The scheme in numbers
95 days running time
105 volunteers of all ages, faiths and backgrounds who offered food, companionship and night time supervision.
4,560 hours were donated in kind
Donated time was equivalent to £40,000 on a pay scale
1,829 evening meals
71% of the guests who stayed at the Shelter are being helped to a life off the streets
33 of the guests received a medical consultation
12 had structured mental health assessments
1 entered rehabilitation
2 of the guests have already found employment
3 guests are now in training
Cllr Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “Thanet’s Winter Shelter enjoyed tremendous success in its first year so it’s pleasing to see that we learned from that pilot and delivered a service that helped yet more people towards a life off the streets. There are now 16 fewer people living on the streets of Thanet.
“The fact that guests could access support and advice in one place enabled them to make the difficult move from homelessness to rehabilitation back into the community. A huge thank you must go to the Salvation Army, Porchlight, the Glo Gen’s Aspire programme and all the churches and volunteers who donated or gave up their time and donated much needed equipment so generously.”
The Winter Shelter is now a key part of the council’s coordinated approach to addressing homelessness in Thanet
Carl Whitehead, Ramsgate Salvation Army Leader, said: “There is so much to be grateful for as we look back at the Winter Shelter. Recognition and thanks must be given to the churches across Thanet who worked together to provide a safe warm place every night. Volunteers who gave their time and their friendship by working at the shelter every night, and countless individuals, community groups, churches and local businesses who raised money and donated items and services.
“We were overwhelmed with the support the community of Thanet provided; so many people what to support those without a home.”
“Yet our greatest thanks is surely that so many men and women found a welcoming community every night. A place where they were safe and found friendship. A warm bed was the foundation of the shelter but the real prize was the support for the guests to help them escape from homelessness.
“The figures speak for themselves – over 70% of the guests left the shelter to a place of their own – and the remainder continue to receive support to help them find a home. Again this is testament to the collaborative working between many churches and agencies that are committed to make a difference.”
James Issott, Deputy Manager of Pipeline said: “Since the start of the year, the Aspire Homeless project has seen 20 individuals housed, and this is in part due to relationships we have been able to build with clients at the Winter Shelter.”
Porchlight spokesperson Chris Thomas added: “When temperatures drop, people living on the streets are at their most vulnerable and our main priority is to get people into the shelters. Conditions this winter were particularly deadly, and the Winter Shelter undoubtedly saved lives.
“Working in partnership with the Thanet Winter Shelter, we can ensure they offer more than just immediate respite from the cold. When we help someone into the Shelter and their immediate needs have been met, it can be a chance to start building the trust they need to accept our help on a more permanent basis.”
If you see someone rough sleeping in Thanet, please call Porchlight’s free Helpline on 0800 567 7699.