Thanet Winter Shelter gets ready to open at seven isle church halls

Get involved with the Thanet Winter Shelter

The Thanet Winter Shelter will open its doors for the second year  this Friday (December 1).

Homelessness in Thanet has seen a sharp increase from 33 verified people recorded rough sleeping last year compared to the present estimate of 46 people.

Thanet District Council has put £20,000 into the shelter scheme which will be operated by the Salvation Army and looks to continue the success of last year’s initiative in helping rough sleepers off the streets during the harsh winter months.

As well as providing bed, clothes and food, a key aim is to better equip some of the district’s most vulnerable people to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation. There is also help with training and employment.

Unique to Thanet’s Winter Shelter is engaging with the Kent Mental Health practitioners to ensure guests are referred to the most appropriate primary care or charity sector services for their needs.

Aspire programme

The Winter Shelter is again to run alongside Glo Gen’s Aspire Homelessness programme and the homeless charity, Porchlight. The co-ordinated response means that individuals won’t simply leave after breakfast as they are provided with practical help throughout the day. Guests can access support, including training and skills, from one place, helping them to make the difficult move from homelessness to rehabilitation back into the community.

The scheme

This year’s shelter will involve seven church halls in Margate and Ramsgate opening their doors to provide shelter for up to 20 people each night, along with an evening meal, access to showers and bed and breakfast.

To be eligible for one of the 20 bed spaces each night, people need to be verified as rough sleeping and have been assessed under homeless legislation and have a connection with Thanet.

The council’s Housing team worked alongside Porchlight to conduct a ‘homeless sweep’ where team members went out in the early hours of the morning to explain to those living on the streets how they could access help and register for social housing. It is estimated that there are over 50 rough sleepers in the Thanet district.

Of the 25 guest who used the shelter last year, 23 were in accommodation by the end. With a total of 42 guests over the three months, the shelter offered 1,350 beds for the night and 2,768 meals to those sleeping rough across Thanet.

The scheme runs from December 1 to February 28, 2018.

‘Suffering’

Cllr Reverend Stuart Piper, Cabinet Member for Housing and Open Spaces, said: “Homelessness and rough sleeping is a real problem and more and more people are suffering because of this. We are building on last year’s success to make a real difference to those people who have had problems outside of their control and find themselves living on the streets.”

“It’s heartening to see that so many people have volunteered to help and have provided much needed equipment. Many volunteers helped at last year’s shelter and this year there are many new recruits – including two people who were homeless last year and received support guidance from the partners involved.”

“We are looking forward to renewing the collaborative approach with the Aspire project and provide tailored support to help people for the rest of their lives.”

“The Winter Shelter is a unique approach to tackling a very real problem in Thanet. We’re delighted to provide these projects with financial support and will be working alongside our partners to identify future funding steams should the projects prove to be successful at the end of the pilot.”

Vital link

Porchlight’s Ismaila Jammeh, who is an Outreach Worker, added: “The winter shelter is a vital link in the chain of support available to homeless people in Thanet. When temperatures drop, people living on the streets are at their most vulnerable so our main priority is to get them in from the cold.”

“Once their most immediate needs are met, we can encourage people to engage with support for any issues they are facing and help them to access more permanent housing. Everyone’s journey into homelessness is different and we work with people on an individual basis so that they can move away from the misery of the streets and towards a more positive future.”

If you see someone rough sleeping in Thanet, please call Porchlight’s free Helpline on 0800 567 7699.

Practical help

James Issott, Pipeline Deputy Manager, Aspire said: “Aspire Homeless Project launched in 2016 to support people to identify and create pathways to get them back into stable life routines.

“We are currently supporting 44 individuals with employment readiness, finance, housing, mental health and wellbeing as well as physical needs such as furnishings and clothing. The project consists of a weekly course, a drop-in cafe and a rough sleeper outreach service. New for 2017 is our clothing store, Dignity which offers £25 gift vouchers to homeless people to allow them to shop for new clothes.”

Volunteers needed

Shelter volunteers 2017

The Winter Shelter Scheme is currently looking for volunteers and donations to support the initiative.

To volunteer or for more information, please visit: http://thanetwintershelter.org.uk or e-mail mailto:admin@thanetwintershelter.org.uk to find out how to get involved.

Homelessness and Housing advice

If you need help and advice, please go TDC’s  Housing information pages.

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