Thanet Winter Shelter opening celebrated with meal delivery

Carl Whitewood and Raushan Ara get ready to take the first meal to the Thanet Winter Shelter

The Thanet Winter Shelter is now open, providing accommodation for people who have been sleeping rough on the isle’s streets.

Doors to the scheme, which is in one location for 24 hours a day for the first time, opened yesterday (November 23) and was marked with a meal provided by councillor Raushan Ara who runs the Ramsgate Tandoori.

The shelter has separate rooms for 18 people – in line with covid restrictions – pus extra capacity if needed.

It will be open until March 31 and is being run by Thanet council and the Ramsgate Salvation Army, headed by new manager Lauren Oates.

The scheme also involves Serveco, the homelessness RISE team, Forward Trust and Citizens Advice.

Due to the 24 hour service this year, sessions on art, literacy, life skills and extended time with outreach workers is available.

This seasonal facility over the previous four years has supported more than 150 guests.

This year the shelter is part funded by Thanet District Council (£30,000), with a further £96,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, reflecting the additional provision needed to deliver this during a pandemic.

Following the opening Cllr Ara said: “We urgently need volunteers, and donations of money, food, toiletries and clothes.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the TDC housing team, and to Carl Whitewood of the Salvation Army, for all their hard work in making this happen. Well done, everyone.”

Cllr Helen Whitehead, Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhoods at Thanet District Council said: “This year we are extending our service in an incredibly positive way. I have long believed that we make improvements to the lives of our community through recognising that all needs are interconnected; and that by joining together, and offering a holistic approach, we can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

“We are now able to offer a safe space to people over this period, and a secure and welcoming base. The Winter Shelter was always far more than simply a place to sleep, but what we have organised this year affirms and shows what we as a community are capable of, and what our priorities are. With the shelter running 24 hours a day, we are guaranteeing safety, warmth, food, and a wide range of supporting activities throughout the day, alongside input and support from all partners involved in and linked to the shelter.

“This year has been a difficult one for us as a country and as a community; but I think we can be rightly proud of our priorities, and the fact that we have managed to extend our supportive provision and wraparound care at a time even at a time that has been so challenging.”

Winter Shelter manager Lauren said: “I’m so pleased to be working with the Thanet Winter Shelter this year. The fact that we’re going to be offering an ongoing, 24 hour service, a step unfortunately accelerated by COVID-19, is positive and will make a big difference.

“We will have the opportunity to really get to know our guests, to spend more time with them and to ensure that the services we provide meet their needs. This is more than just a bed and something to eat, for the night, we will give people security, a sense of place and the opportunity to be part of a community.

“I would urge anyone who can, to consider making a small donation. This year’s costs are much greater and, although we’ve had significantly more funding from the Government, there is a shortfall. Running a 24 hour facility, in a fixed location requires far greater resources than a rolling dormitory set up in venues donated to us for free. We’d also welcome volunteers who have previously worked with people who may have experienced trauma, and can offer their specialist skills whether that be in art, or movement or education to get in touch.”

Thanet Winter shelter can only be accessed by referral through Thanet District Council and placements will be made by Thanet’s Rough Sleeper Service, RISE. This is to ensure that the facility is used by genuine rough sleepers, who are the most vulnerable and in greatest need of help and support.

The goal is to ensure personalised support plans are in place so that individuals can be helped to find secure, long-term accommodation. Work is also done to try and address any of the barriers which may have stopped them from finding or keeping a home in the past. The team also helps people staying at the Winter Shelter to prepare for and find training or employment.

How to help:

Make a donation via the Thanet Winter Shelter JustGiving page:

Buy something specific for the shelter via the Amazon Wish List 

Donations of food or bedding are also gratefully received. Please see the website or contact the Salvation Army in Ramsgate

Alternatively cash or cheques can be given to TWS via The Salvation Army, 167 High Street, Ramsgate CT11 9TT and BACS details are available upon request.

Covid restrictions mean big changes for the Thanet Winter Shelter this year