Derek Player to step down from helm of Norwich homelessness charity St Martins Housing Trust

Derek Player, who is stepping down from St Martins Housing Trust after 16 years. Picture by SIMON FI

Derek Player, who is stepping down from St Martins Housing Trust after 16 years. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The man who has been at the helm of a Norwich homelessness charity for the past 16 years has announced he will step down at the end of the year.

Derek Player has decided to retire as the general manager of St Martins Housing Trust, having overseen major changes in the way the charity has developed.

The charity started life as a night shelter more than 40 years ago, but has changed over the years to reflect the increasingly complex needs of homeless people.

In April 2002, the old night shelter was replaced by the purpose-built direct access and resettlement hostel called Bishopbridge House in Gas Hill.

Other developments include Webster Court, sheltered housing with care for single older people who have been homeless or are about to become homeless.

The charity provides community services, direct contact with rough sleepers, manages temporary accommodation for people whose homelessness applications are being processed and en education and employment preparation centre.

Mr Player said: 'It's been a real privilege to advise the trustees about how best to spend St Martins' limited charitable resources.

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'I will carry two things with me into retirement. Firstly the immense job satisfaction we all gain at St Martins from observing people who are at rock bottom rise up and get their lives back on track through sheer persistence.

'Secondly, the enduring interest and support of all our many supporters throughout the county who, like St Martins, never give up on the quest to eradicate rough sleeping from our streets.'

Colin Bland, chair of trustees, said: 'On behalf of the trustees, past and present, I would like to thank Derek for his dedication to the charity, which has meant that we are able to help so many vulnerable people.

'During Derek's tenure as general manager he has overseen a huge growth in St Martin's work. The standards that the charity has achieved is a true testament to Derek's own work ethic.'

'Derek has contributed hugely to enhancing the reputation of St Martins. He will be missed by service users, staff, trustees and stakeholders.'

The charity is now looking for a new chief executive officer.