Churches plan to launch night shelter after rise in homelessness in King’s Lynn
- Credit: PA
Churches are opening as night shelter two nights a week after a rise in homelessness.
A public meeting was held at London Road Methodist Church in King's Lynn to discuss issues of homelessness in the town, with speakers from organisations involved in serving homeless people across Norfolk.
The meeting was organised by Andrew Frere-Smith, development worker for Imagine Norfolk Together, a joint initiative between the Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Norwich.
Darryl Smith, operations director for the YMCA spoke about its work in King's Lynn.
'Homelessness has a huge impact on a person's life, and statistics show an increased chance of ending up in A&E, street drinking, prostitution, arrest and conviction or rough sleeping,' she said. 'The average age of death is 47 years. It is estimated that this costs the UK £1bn a year. Young homeless people are difficult to count because they tend to sleep on friend's sofas.'
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The number of beds in the YMCA hostel in King's Lynn has increased from nine to 15 over the past year. Clients are referred from many agencies and there have been 126 referrals since April 2016. The number of rough sleepers on the streets in King's Lynn rose to 42 in December 2016, compared to 5 in 2015.
Susan Carne, project co-ordinator for community chaplaincy in Norwich, spoke about her work with prisoners.
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She said many are released on a Friday when there will be no care services over the weekend and the prisoner is given just £46 and the clothes they are standing up in.
Paula Hall, chief executive of the Purfleet Trust, said it deals with about 80 people per day and most were single homeless people. She said finding accommodation for its clients has been really challenging, especially because recent changes and the capping of housing benefits has made landlords reluctant to accept homeless tenants.
The Purfleet Trust and Churches Together plan to open a night shelter on Fridays and Saturdays from October.
The project will have one paid co-ordinator and will require about 60 volunteers to run it.
If you would like to volunteer or obtain further information about the planned King's Lynn night shelter call 07949 964932 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.