Tue, 23 Jan 2018
NEWBURY’S homeless shelter has been running at capacity over Christmas – with some rough sleepers having to be turned away.
The shelter, which sleeps between 13 and 15 people, was opened on December 1 by charity West Berkshire Homeless and is run by a team of volunteers.
However, over the Christmas period all beds were taken, meaning charity workers were unable to find space for some of the homeless in need of shelter.
West Berkshire Homeless general secretary Erica Gassor said: “We have been at capacity for the last few weeks. We know we haven’t solved the problem.
“We know there are still people coming in for a warm drink and some food in the evening who we then can’t let stay.”
The shelter, which has a strict no alcohol or drugs policy, is based at the Salvation Army Hall in Northcroft Lane and will be open until the end of February.
West Berkshire Homeless raised £18,000 to fund the shelter in order to provide beds during the worst of the winter months.
And, now well into its second month, Ms Gassor said the charity group had been “astounded” by the support locally, particularly over Christmas.
“We have been delighted and astounded by the wonderful support we have received for our work in the night shelter,” she said.
“The 3rd Newbury Scout Group and the Bridge Street Church provided Christmas presents to open on Christmas morning, with Waitrose providing funds to buy each individual a specific gift.
“A local business, ITS (International Taste Solutions), paid for a wonderful Christmas lunch at the Toby Carvery and the Artisan Cheese Man from the Newbury market provided a delicious selection of cheeses for the buffet supper on Christmas Day.
“The support continues daily from our wonderful volunteers covering the three shifts and Swift Couriers with their excellent delivery and collection service.
“We have bacon butties delivered regularly for breakfast from The Bakehouse Deli in Northcroft Lane and pizzas arrive on a Wednesday evening from Caprinos Pizza in Newbury, in addition to the rolls, wraps and salads collected daily from Pret a Manger.”
The charity is now working with some of those who are using the service to establish bank accounts and ID documents to help them find work or more permanent accommodation.
Ms Gassor said: “We’re trying our very best to help them improve their situation because, in the best possible way, we don’t want to have the same people coming back next year.”
West Berkshire Homeless will be holding a charity collection at Waitrose in Newbury on Saturday to help raise funds to continue their work helping the homeless.
Volunteers from the charity will be at the store in Oxford Road between 9.30am and 4.30pm.