Homeless shelter volunteers fear their best is not enough in face of rising poverty - The Rugby Observer

Homeless shelter volunteers fear their best is not enough in face of rising poverty

Andy Morris 22nd Nov, 2017   0

VOLUNTEERS at Rugby’s homeless shelters fear their efforts will not be enough in the face of growing poverty this winter.

Charity Hope 4 Rugby is preparing to open its doors for the seventh winter in a row, to accommodate up to 15 rough sleepers each night.

But with around 50 different people using the shelters each year, and a recent report revealing homelessness in Rugby has increased by nearly 124 per cent since 2013, the charity’s chair is concerned people will be left on the streets.

Rev Dr Michael Bochenski said: “The best we can offer is far from enough.

“A recent survey among our guests revealed we have at least 24 guests who are rough sleeping or badly housed.

“Anyone who walks the streets of Rugby will have noticed increased numbers of people sleeping rough.

“Two things are urgently needed – more social housing for young single people and more emergency accommodation.”

The shelters will open at seven churches on December 1 for four months.

But they face unprecedented demand, as a recent report from charity Shelter revealed one in 463 Rugbeians are homeless – the highest number in Warwickshire and fifth-highest in the West Midlands.

A total of 224 homeless people were recorded in the borough, up by nearly 124 per cent from just over 100 in 2013.

Rev Bochenski said the figures did not surprise the Hope Centre team, who see a steady stream of new referrals each month.

He added: “Every winter around 50 different guests use our shelters. There’s a range of issues including relationship breakdown, finances, addiction – and Universal Credit is exacerbating things.

“The inspiration behind the shelter lies in the Bible story of the Good Samaritan. We do not want to ‘walk by on the other side’ when people are in need of shelter in our town.”

Coun Jerry Roodhouse, chair of Rugby Borough Council’s Homelessness Scrutiny Sub-Group, said people could not afford to live in Rugby.

He said: “Rugby is a growing town. Rent levels are getting higher and landlords don’t want people waiting six weeks for Universal Credit payments.”

Last month, The Observer reported Rugby would receive £56,341 from the Government over the next three years to combat homelessness.

But it was described as a ‘drop in the ocean’ by members of the Homelessness Scrutiny Sub-Group.

The Rugby Winter Shelter will open from December 1 to March 31. This year’s venues are St John the Baptist, Hillmorton (Sundays), St Marie’s (Mondays), St George’s (Tuesdays), Rugby Baptist (Wednesdays), m2o (Thursdays), Salvation Army (Fridays) and Rugby Methodist Centre (Saturdays).

Visit www.hope4.org.uk or the Hope Centre at 8 Newbold Road (01788 572456) to register for a place at the shelter, or to volunteer.


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