A HOMELESS charity, determined to establish a winter night shelter for rough sleepers in Newbury, is hoping to be able to bid for funding in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch, after successfully raising £1,000 to qualify for the competition.
West Berkshire Homeless (WBH) is hoping to raise enough money to set up the overnight shelter between December and February at the Salvation Army Hall in Northcroft Lane.
However, start-up costs and wages for a full-time supervisor have left the charity in a desperate race against time to raise the cash and recruit staff and volunteers in time.
WBH general secretary Erica Gassor explained that the charity, which has so far helped house and employ 13 homeless people in Newbury, is now relying on donations from the public, as well as a successful pitch at the Greenham Trust’s Pitch to the Panel event, in order to raise £10,000 by mid-November.
“We are constantly working to help these people find accommodation and get them back into employment,” she said.
“But on top of that, we need to get the shelter open in time for the harshest winter months to give those who have nowhere else to sleep a warm bed for the night.
“We’re hoping to be invited to make a Dragon’s Den-style pitch for funding from the Greenham Trust, but we still need those donations from the public to keep coming in.”
West Berkshire Council had raised concerns over the planning implications of the hall being used as a night shelter.
However, Ms Gassor said discussions were ongoing and WBH was confident any issues would be resolved.
As well as the funding, the charity, which was only formed in February, is also hoping to recruit 150 volunteers to help run the shelter.
And with the winter now looming, Ms Gassor said everyone involved with WBH would be doing everything they can to get the temporary night shelter open.
She said: “We need people to volunteer for however long they can.
“Whatever people can manage, we can work a rota around them.
“We need people to make the beds, make cups of tea, we need people in the morning to help remove the bedding so that the hall can be returned to its normal use.
“We have done so much since we formed in February.
“We have achieved so much through the hard work of the trustees and everyone that has been involved.
“We do not accept failure and we can’t let these people down.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with WBH can email firstname.lastname@example.org