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Homeless day centre Catching Lives in Canterbury for close for five days due to rule-breaking clients

Drug taking, drinking and violence has forced the closure of a day centre for the homeless in Canterbury.

Charity bosses at Catching Lives in Station Road East have decided to shut for five days from tomorrow after staff came to the end of their tether with rule-breaking clients.

Manager Terry Gore says the charity has been forced to take drastic action because of the incidents and disregard of its rules.

Catching Lives manager Terry Gore
Catching Lives manager Terry Gore

"We have a set of rules for people who use the centre which include no violence, drugs or drinking on the premises or abusing staff," he said.

"But over the past three weeks we have had continual problems with all of those and have given clients three warnings, clearly explaining to them that they need to respect the place or they won't have it.

"We have up to 90 clients use the centre every week but we are not talking about only a handful who are causing problems.

"The vast majority of clients know who is doing it, but none of them are giving me that information.

"I gave them the last warning on Tuesday and said if we find any further evidence of drug use or drinking on the premises, we will consider closing.

"The following day, I found a heroin wrap in our toilets. We had a staff meeting the following afternoon and the team decision was that we would close for five days."

Homeless person living on street. Stock pic.
Homeless person living on street. Stock pic.

Mr Gore said the closure would not affect the winter night shelters and the day centre would open at night if the city council activated its cold weather 'SWEP' initiative.

He said the charity had informed the city council of the move and also the Salvation Army.

"There are other places people can go to get out of the cold, including the Canterbury Umbrella and the Salvation Army," he added.

But one client, who did not want to be named, said dozens of blameless clients would be forced onto the streets this weekend as colder weather sets in.

He said: "There's going to be a sudden influx of homeless people around the city centre. We are all human, we all need something to eat. There's going to be bedlam.

"There's been no mention of ration packs at all. There's heaps in their cupboards to feed us for five days.

"I think it's absolutely appalling what they are doing. I didn't sleep last night. I'm worried but also angry at the moment.

"Lives are being put at risk. We are going to be out in freezing temperatures.

"They should find the people responsible, sort them out, and get them out."

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