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Homeless charity Shelter's Chatham base saved

Shelter logo
Shelter logo

Chatham is now the only town in Kent with an office for the homeless charity Shelter.

Hundreds use the walk-in centre in Ordnance Street, Chatham, but it had been threatened with closure amid government cuts.

Now it is the only one in Kent to have been saved, with seven staff retaining their jobs.

But it has had to take on more cash from charity fundraising, not just the government, to stay afloat so its long-term future is still uncertain.

Shelter lost 36% of its legal aid budget from the Legal Services Commission, which funds face-to-face advice at offices like Chatham’s.

Nine of those offices will close on March 31, including Ashford and Dover.
Chatham MP Tracey Crouch teamed up with Jack Dromey, a Labour MP from Birmingham,to raise the possibility of the Chatham office’s closure with the legal aid minister, Lord McNally.

“There’s a real need for this kind of service,” she said. “The intervention and prevention, the advice they give to people who are beginning to find themselves in need, that’s very important because it stops people getting to the stage of homelessness.

“You have got the Citizens Advice Bureau [CAB] already under pressure because of the rise in other issues in the area. To have someone like Shelter providing that advice is essential.”

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Now is the very worst time to be taking away the housing safety net that helps people stay in their homes.”

Medway CAB chief executive Dan McDonald said: “This means at the time of massive welfare reform, with the impact particularly on housing clients, the provision of advice and assistance is reduced significantly.
“We understand that the Shelter office in Chatham opening hours have not been finalised. However in view of the uncertainty surrounding the near closure of the office it is probable that resources will be limited.”

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