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Thanet Winter Shelter opens its doors for the second year running for the homeless

By Katie Davis

Following a sharp increase in homelessness in the district this year, the Thanet Winter Shelter has once again opened its doors.

This time last year it was estimated that there were 33 verified people recorded rough sleeping compared to the present estimate of 46 people.

Thanet District Council has pumped £20,000 into the scheme, which is operated by the Salvation Army and looks to build on last year’s initiative in helping rough sleepers off the streets during the harsh winter months.

Thanet Winter Shelter volunteers
Thanet Winter Shelter volunteers

As well as providing bed, clothes and food, a key aim is to better equip some of the district’s most vulnerable people to help them secure and retain longer-term accommodation while providing practical pathways for training and employment.

The shelter also engages with the Kent Mental Health practitioners to ensure guests are referred to the most appropriate primary care/ charity sector services for their needs.

This year’s shelter will involve seven church halls in Margate and Ramsgate opening their doors to provide shelter for up to 20 people each night, along with an evening meal, access to showers and bed and breakfast.

Carl Whitewood, Ramsgate Salvation Army Leader & Julie Nicholson, Thanet Winter Shelter Manager
Carl Whitewood, Ramsgate Salvation Army Leader & Julie Nicholson, Thanet Winter Shelter Manager

To be eligible for a place, people need to be verified as a rough sleeper and been assessed under homeless legislation and have connection with Thanet.

The council’s housing team worked alongside Porchlight to conduct a ‘homeless sweep’, where team members went out in the early hours of the morning to explain to those living on the streets how they could access help and register for social housing.

Of the 25 guests who engaged last year, 23 were in accommodation by the end.
With a total of 42 guests over three months, the shelter offered 1,350 beds for the nights and 2,768 meals to those sleeping rough across Thanet.

Clrr Reverent Stuart Piper, cabinet member for housing and open spaces at TDC, said: “Homelessness and rough sleepers is a real problem and more and more people are suffering because of this.

Volunteers Will and Vince
Volunteers Will and Vince

“We are building on last year’s success to make a real difference to those people who have had problems outside of their control and find themselves living on the streets.

“It’s heartening to see that so many people have volunteered to help and have provided much needed equipment.

“Many volunteers helped at last year’s shelters and this year there are many new recruits - including two people, Will and Vince, who were homeless last year and received support guidance from the partners involved.

“The Winter Shelter is a unique approach to tackling a very real problem in Thanet.”

Like last year, the shelter is run is conjunction with Glo Glen’s Aspire Homelessness programme and the homeless charity Porchlight.

Porchlight’s Ismaila Jammeh said; “The winter shelter is a vital link in the chain of support to homeless people in Thanet.

“When temperatures drop, people living on the streets are at their most vulnerable so our main priority is to get them in from the cold.”

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