Sunday, 25 December 2016

Basingstoke To Help The Homeless Through The Winter


An appeal to help those living on the streets in Basingstoke over the winter months has resulted in the town revealing its best side.

More than 200 residents have pledged their time to provide some positivity at the start of 2017 for those sleeping rough – while the campaign also reached its fundraising target a month early.

In total £13,850 has been raised by members of the public, to go towards two schemes that will provide a warm place for those in need to sleep, eat a hot meal, and have a shower, during the cold snap.

The Night Light Winter Shelter will help those most in need, with the project actually reaching its capacity of volunteers, while a disabled toilet at The Camrose Centre, in Glebe Hall, is to be converted into a wet room.

Single anonymous pledges of £500, and even £5,000 were received as part of the drive, with one resident touchingly choosing to make three identical donations on behalf of his brother, sister, and daughter, as their Christmas presents.

The Social Inclusion Partnership’s ‘Real Change, not loose change’ campaign was behind the scheme, with chair Cllr Terri Reid admitting to feeling emotional after seeing the public’s reaction.

She said: “When you think about what a terrible year it’s been, and then you read some of the comments left, it’s amazing.

“Some of them made me cry, and we’ve been flooded with people wanting to volunteer to help.

“It’s utterly incredible, and seems to have really touched a nerve with a lot of people.”

The latest statistics from the Home Office have estimated that there are currently 20 people rough sleeping in Basingstoke, while 104 people currently live in temporary accommodation across the town.

Basingstoke’s council made tackling homelessness one of its priorities in the last two years, by securing the future of three short-term accommodation centres, and then choosing in September to spend a £100,000 grant to help those rough sleeping.

Deputy leader Cllr Reid said: “It’s awful to see people living on the streets, especially when it’s cold

“This is giving people dignity, and somewhere they can go to make them feel a bit better about themselves.

“And it will provide a fantastic service, through the night shelter, that we haven’t had before.

“There are complex reasons for why people are rough sleeping, and it’s not an easy fix, but we’ve taken huge steps in 2016.”



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