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New homeless shelter set to open in Newbury next week

Volunteers raise £30,000 in 12 months to fund 13-bed refuge

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886632

Bid to use hall as Newbury homeless shelter

A NIGHT shelter for people sleeping rough in Newbury looks set to open on schedule after a dedicated group of volunteers succeeded in raising almost £30,000 for the project.

West Berkshire Homeless had announced plans to have the 13-bed shelter, based at the Salvation Army Hall in Northcroft Lane, ready for use by December.

However, the charity first needed to raise enough money to ensure it would be able to operate throughout the winter.

And following a successful bid at the recent Dragon’s Den-style Pitch to the Panel event, as well as a host of donations from private residents and local businesses, the charity’s general secretary Erica Gassor said the shelter is now on track to be open on Friday, December 1.

Speaking this week, Ms Gassor said: “We have been so lucky with the excellent response from people, businesses and organisations – we are just delighted.

“It shows that this world does care about the inequality.

“We have had a great response to our request for volunteers to help run the shelter too, so as it stands we are on schedule for that opening night.”

The charity successfully bid for more than £7,000 at the Greenham Trust’s Pitch to the Panel event, and also last week received £2,000 from the Berkshire Masonic Charity.

Along with match-funding, the total amount raised is around £28,000.

The money will allow the charity to employ two night managers for the shelter, which will be based at the Salvation Army Hall between December and February.

However, despite the strong support from the people of Newbury, Ms Gassor said West Berkshire Homeless still needed more volunteers to come forward to help run the shelter.

She said: “We are starting to train our volunteers now, but we still need more people to come forward.

“The shelter will allow those who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets to come along at night, register, have something to eat – we’ll get the beds out so they can sleep in the hall and then, in the morning, our volunteers will put everything away, so it can be used as a church again.

“We are looking for nine people a night and, because some people can only do perhaps a couple of nights, we do need more.”

The charity, which was formed less than a year ago, has also successfully worked to help 12 individuals off the streets and into permanent accommodation and employment.

“We still need more funds so we can continue doing this work all-year-round,” Ms Gassor added.

“It costs between £1,000 and £2,000 to help initially get someone of the streets for that first month before they get paid.

“We will always need donations because we desperately want to continue helping these people throughout the year.”

To volunteer for West Berkshire Homeless email erica.gassor@googlemail.com.

For more details or to donate visit https://thegoodexchange. com/project/11760/west-berkshire-homeless-newbury-area/ west-berkshire-homeless-newbury-start-up

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Article comments

  • Westberkswalker

    28/11/2017 - 09:09

    Well done to everyone who has made this possible. It is heartwarming to see that there are people in our community with the compassion and commitment to make this happen. At the same time, however, it is sickening that, in a wealthy society such as ours, in the 21st Century, a volunteer group should need to provide this shelter.

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