Thanet Winter Shelter has shut after the team managed to house all of those who had been using the service and needed accommodation.
Suitable accommodation has been found for 33 people overall with the last six finding places yesterday (March 19).
Now having finished its fourth year, Thanet Winter Shelter runs between November and the end of March to provide beds, food and services to those sleeping rough on the isle.
Since 2018, referrals have been made by Thanet Rise (Rough sleeper Intervention, Support and Empowerment), who then act as the lynchpin for helping people access a host of other services to get them back on their feet.
The shelter provided at least 20 bed spaces, plus five emergency ones, nightly, as well a hot evening meal and breakfast the next morning. It ran across eight venues in Margate and Ramsgate and received support from the Salvation Army, Thanet council, The Gap Project in Broadstairs and isle churches.
Funding for the project costs around £65,000 each year. Thanet council gives £20,000, with a further £10,000 grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The rest has to be made up from donations.
This year some 1802 bed spaces were occupied between November 11 and March 19, a total of 130 nights. The shelter had been due to run for another ten nights but the successful work means it is no longer necessary.
There were an average of 14 people per night with a spike of 23 during SWEP periods.
A massive 604 volunteers were registered and there were more than 100 referrals to RISE and the shelter in the effort to prevent homelessness. The RISE team has successfully worked to help 120 people back on track.
Shelter manager Danilo Luongo said: “I can’t express enough gratitude for all the help and support received from all the volunteers to make this the best running winter shelter ever so far.
“I would like to make a shout out to Jenny Harris our amazing chief chef, who organised all the shopping list and meals this season, so we could only guarantee the best for our guests this year. There were no food complaints and people were putting weight on. I’d like to thank all the volunteers and all the venue. Thanks to RISE and all the associated organisations, Aspire, the Salvation Army, The Gap Project, TDC, K Laundry, police and enforcement and everyone who helped.
“I was blessed by having such an amazing team around and so much support. It has been amazing seeing so much dedication from people giving their spare time when others needed them.
“We have witnessed kindness and the true colours of community thanks to our volunteers and all the different projects who have helped us. We could not have achieved any of this without the local community in Thanet helping with fundraising, giving their time and all of the for food and clothing donations.
“I could go on and on for all the amazing help we have had. We cannot forget our different venues across Thanet. We would love to say thank you to all the venues, from the bottom of our heart! You truly helped us a lot and you trusted we could deliver a good shelter. We think this year is been truly amazing because you gave us the opportunity.We truly are amazed and we can’t thank you enough.”
The Rise team, headed by Danilo, was launched on October 10, 2018 – World Homelessness Day – but has been in operation since August of that year.
It is spearheaded by Thanet District Council with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, the Forward Trust addiction support service, Thanet Winter Shelter, Salvation Army, Pathways Ltd, Serveco, Paramount Independent Property Services and Citizens Advice Thanet.
Rise knits together all the services people might need, from alcohol, addiction and mental health support to advice on benefits, assistance getting a GP or a bank account and a pathway for getting into, and staying in, accommodation.
Contact Rise on 01843 577277. Emergency or out of hours: 01843 577000.