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Bid to use hall as Newbury homeless shelter

Charity hoping to provide 13 beds in Salvation Army’s base

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Bid to use hall as Newbury homeless shelter

A NEW homeless night shelter in Newbury could provide 13 beds for rough sleepers during the upcoming winter months, providing funding and planning obstacles can be overcome.

Newbury-based charity West Berkshire Homeless (WBH) is aiming to open the shelter from December to February to provide accommodation to those who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.

However, the charity has been told that to use its preferred site, at the Salvation Army hall in Northcroft Lane, it would need to apply to West Berkshire Council for a ‘change of use’ for the building, while more than £10,000 will have to be raised to be able to open and run the shelter.

Government figures from 2016 estimated the number of rough sleepers in West Berkshire to be around 14, however the true figure is thought to be considerably higher.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) initiative provides limited short-term emergency accommodation for rough sleepers at Two Saints hostel if the temperature drops below freezing.

However, general secretary at WBH, Erica Gassor, said the charity was aiming to provide safe and sustained accommodation for homeless people through the worst months of the winter and was currently exploring its options.

She said: “We are very grateful that the Salvation Army have offered us the use of their hall and are working with us to help the homeless.

“We have been told we have to apply to change the use of the building before we can use it as a shelter, however, we are looking at all options. 

“We are looking at what we can do and how we can do it.”

She added: “It’s so essential to get the night shelter up and running.

“The homeless hostel Two Saints is at capacity and so we need to get these people into accommodation.

“No one in this day and age should be sleeping outside in the harshest winter months – it’s inhumane.”

Since its formation at the end of February, WBH has so far helped 12 individuals into permanent accommodation and employment.

However, as the cold weather approaches, the charity says it needs a more immediate solution to get those who are forced to sleep on the streets into a warm bed.

Working with the Salvation Army to use its hall, WBH is looking at providing the beds each night and offering tea, coffee and sandwiches, as well as breakfast in the mornings on the days when Loose Ends is not open for a morning meal.

However, Mrs Gassor said the charity needs more than £10,000 as well as a team of volunteers to open and run the shelter between December and February.

She said: “We are appealing for help with funding as well as volunteers to help run the shelter for three months.

“WBH would also be very interested to hear from potential landlords and employers who would like to work with them in this scheme.”

Anyone who is interested can email or call 07799 492235.

West Berkshire Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said the council had not been approached regarding the use of the Salvation Army hall as a night shelter and would be happy to discuss options with the charity.

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Article comments

  • dazzer

    22/08/2017 - 18:06

    If the powers at be would stop letting in refuges & economic migrants (which includes all Europeans) there wouldn't be a homeless problem in this country - I know English people who rent privately as they can't get a council house - Yet foreign get housed!!! I know of English people on the streets yet foreign get housed! I know of ex service personal on the streets yet Foreign get housed. Immigration needs to be reversed.


    • EugeneStryker

      23/08/2017 - 16:04

      dazzer, since economic immigrants to this country are net contributors to the fiscal budget who do think is going to make up the shortfall in tax revenues if immigration is reversed? Who is going to build the houses that need to be built given the construction industry already say that there is a chronic skills shortage in the industry. According to the Royal Statistical Society "Despite what many believe, immigrants don't get preferential access to social housing". You may not like foreigners, but you're misguided if you think they are cause of the social housing crisis.


  • bruin the bear

    22/08/2017 - 09:09

    Please support this wonderful lady, no one should have to sleep rough in 2017 Gb


  • Art Supporter Ex Pat

    22/08/2017 - 06:06

    This is a full circle. One of the original uses was as a homeless shelter.


  • Oldmoaner

    21/08/2017 - 23:11

    I am sure there better places to use than one right next door to a children,s nursery. I am not being dis-respectful just practical and realistic.


    • Smiley face

      03/09/2017 - 10:10

      What an outdated attitude to have! You are being disrespectful. It is an unfortunate fact of life that some folk are homeless, often through no fault of their own. What is the problem? I do not understand how it will affect any children.


    • Bombey

      23/08/2017 - 13:01

      Sorry - just don't see a problem here. Care to explain?