‘People do not just become homeless at Christmas’ - plea for continued support from St Martin’s Housing Trust
- Credit: Archant
A homeless hostel which built an emergency extension to deal with a huge rise in the number of rough sleepers has launched an appeal to raise the remainder of the money needed for the project.
St Martin's Housing Trust built space for three new beds and a 'sit up' service to accommodate an additional seven people last year after huge public generosity helped it raise £140,000.
£180,000 came out of the trust's reserves to fund the extension – but despite the hugely successful public appeal, it is still £40,000 short of its target.
It came after its official count of rough sleepers in September showed a rise from 13 the previous year to 34.
The charity has now appealed for help to reach its target, with the warning: 'People do not just become homeless at Christmas.'
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And with a 20pc cut in its budget and loss of its floating support service, the trust is now concerned this year could become a 'perfect storm'.
'Every penny of the fund-raising went towards the redevelopment of Bishopbridge House,' said homeless services manager Maria Platt.
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'£180,000 had come out of our reserves for that which puts us in quite a vulnerable position.
'The rough sleeping population had increased massively. There were exceptional numbers because we had a lot of people coming out of prison, and our response to the increase in numbers was to provide another filter system for the hostel.
'It is almost a triage and assessment centre, so they do not have to wait out on the street.'
Ms Platt added 27 people have successfully moved through the new system in the last six weeks, which could have a 'massive impact' throughout the year.
'You can't really put a price on taking people in off the street,' she said.
'The devastating impact of street sleeping has long term effects, and that is where we try to reduce the long term implications.
'While we are making an impact, new people come to the street every time.'
With the start of Universal Credit, Ms Platt said a wider range of people are now seeking their service.
'People who would not ordinarily come in to our services may become more vulnerable,' she said. 'If they do struggle they could end up on the streets.'
To help the appeal visit stmartinshousing.org.uk