Winter shelter shows more help needed for single homeless people

16 April 2015

A winter homeless shelter run by Transform Housing & Support has shown a real need for more year-round services for single homeless people to avoid them sleeping rough.

A local partnership

The shelter was open to homeless people from Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne. It was run by Transform in partnership with Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne Borough Councils, the Rentstart charities from the three boroughs, Surrey County Council, Walton Charity and other local organisations.

The shelter was hosted at North Lodge, which is part of Whiteley Village in Hersham. Whiteley Village kindly allowed the use of the property on a temporary basis, to provide essential shelter for homeless people. The onsite caterers at the Village, Caterplus, generously provided evening meals for homeless people staying at the shelter.

Representatives from Transform, Whiteley Village and Caterplus met on Monday 13 April to mark the handing back of the keys to North Lodge and the successful completion of the project.

Steve Moore, Area Manager at Transform, said:

“We are indebted to the management, staff and villagers at Whiteley Village for welcoming us into their community this winter. Thanks to their generosity and open-mindedness in allowing a vacant building to be put to good use, homeless people from Spelthorne, Runnymede and Elmbridge had a warm and dry place to stay. We are also incredibly grateful to Caterplus for providing each person with a hot, healthy meal each night.”

“An absolute godsend”

One person supported by the shelter was Clive, who had a very successful career in IT. Clive’s father died, he separated from his wife, then developed serious health problems and could no longer work. He started to struggle financially and eventually lost his tenancy.

Clive talked about what it was like to be homeless and how the shelter helped him:

“When I became homeless I had to sleep under a cardboard box in a car park. Being homeless is rough – at times it felt like I had to throw away my pride. Despite my leg problems I often walked for miles a day. Transform’s winter shelter is an absolute godsend and I will never forget it. This is the first time I have been warm in over six months. The staff have given me really great advice and helped me to find my feet again. Things are definitely looking up.”

A clear need

The shelter demonstrated that many single homeless people are at risk of sleeping rough and there is a clear need for more year-round services to help prevent rough sleeping:

  • Referrals: We received 48 referrals in three months – equivalent to one every two days.

  • Shelter users: 37 single people were offered a bed at the shelter and 28 people accepted this offer.

  • Age: The youngest person referred to the shelter was 19, while the oldest was 63.

  • Gender: The shelter helped men and women, although the majority of referrals (87.5%) were male.

  • Background: Many people were homeless because of relationship breakdown, job loss or ill health.

  • Move on: 50% of people who stayed at the shelter were supported to find permanent housing.

Paul Mitchell, Chief Executive at Transform Housing & Support, said:

“The winter shelter has proven that there is a definite need for more services for single homeless people in Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne. We are working with the local authorities and other partners to find ways to address this need. Transform already provides homes for hundreds of people, all year round, who would otherwise be homeless or in housing crisis. We are currently fundraising to expand our services, so we can help more and more people.”

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