Fundraisers collect more than £90,000 for homelessness charity in just two months - one hostel to be extended

People of Old Buckenham have raised over £30,000 with the help of local supemarket, Sainsburys for S

People of Old Buckenham have raised over £30,000 with the help of local supemarket, Sainsburys for St Martins Housing Trust in Norwich.l-r: Mark Standley, Store Manager of Sainsburys Attleborough, Maria Pratt, Bishopbridge House Manager, Derek Player, General Manager of St Martins Housing Trust and Elaine Penney, Sainsburys. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Generous donors and devoted volunteers have raised more than £90,000 in just two months to extend a homeless hostel in Norwich.

Feature on the Bishopbridge House, in Norwich which is a direct access and residental hostel for hom

Feature on the Bishopbridge House, in Norwich which is a direct access and residental hostel for homeless people.1 of 10 Copy: Rachel Banham - Credit: Archant

Christmas shoppers and long-standing supporters have amassed the sum for the St Martin's Housing Trust, a charity which supports the homeless, since the start of December.

The cash will see five bedrooms added to Bishopbridge House, a 30-bed hostel on Gas Hill.

On Saturday, Derek Player, the charity's general manager, celebrated with volunteers at the Church Rooms in Old Buckenham, where a large portion of the team are from, and revealed that, in the last two months, more than £30,000 had been raised from supermarket collections in the greater Norwich area alone.

It comes as Norwich sees a rise in the number of rough sleepers.

Mr Player said: 'We record very meticulously the people that we engage with on the streets and in the three months leading up to New Year's Eve, we saw 100 people. In the 12 months to the end of March last year, we saw 200.'

The rise is one felt nationally, he added, with rising private rents and welfare cuts both factors.

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The money will also be used for a so-called sit-up service, a designated area to look after people who arrive in the early hours of the morning.

'Currently, if we have someone come in at 3am we aren't really able to help them and have to turn some people away,' Mr Player said.

'But the sit-up service will mean we are able to accommodate them until the morning.'

The figure is split into three streams – £26,000 was raised through pre-Christmas street collections in Norwich, £37,000 in 150 separate donations and the £30,000 from supermarket collections.

Mr Player said: 'We are incredibly grateful to our wonderful volunteers and the supermarkets, Sainbury's, Tesco, Waitrose and the Co-Op, for allowing our collectors to visit them,' Mr Player said. 'It is a massive help for us and will make such a difference to homeless people in Norwich.'

He also praised the Old Buckenham community, with which he said the charity had a 'really special relationship'.

It is hoped the beds will be up and running by autumn.

The charity has 44 beds at two other hostels, as well as group homes and a temporary accommodation project.

For information, visit www.stmartinshousing.org.uk/

Do you have a fundraising story for us? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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