09:35AM, Wednesday 18 January 2017
A homeless shelter to help vulnerable people was officially opened by the mayor, councillors and the Brett Foundation's Sue Brett yesterday.
The John West House, in Howarth Road, is named after a homeless man who died last year and will be available to homeless and vulnerable people in need of help who live in the Royal Borough.
It is a joint project, with the Brett Foundation running the shelter and the council leasing the unit to the group at a very low rate.
“It is just unbelievable,” Sue said.
“Seven years I have been nagging and moaning at people.”
She added it was poignant to name it after John West because ‘he needed this’.
The mayor, Cllr Sayonara Luxton, the leader of the council, Cllr Simon Dudley, and councillors David Coppinger and Samantha Rayner attended the formal opening.
In a speech outside, the mayor thanked Sue and everyone involved in making the centre a reality.
“I think this is something really very good,” she told Sue.
“It is nice to know we do have people like you.”
Its services will not be immediately available due to legal arrangements that still have to be finalised, but Sue was not expecting any further delays beyond that.
The centre will be open from October to March each year, though the Brett Foundation hopes in the future it could be open all year round.
It contains rooms for men and women to sleep, shower facilities, a communal living area and a large open space where Sue expects various agencies the Brett Foundation works with will make use of.
Cllr Dudley said: “It’s great to see it come together.”
Councillors were also shown around a halfway house in Braywick Road, which contains four bedrooms and communal facilities, including a kitchen and shared living area. Sue said the residents would be expected to cook, eat and clean together.
People helped in the shelter will eventually go on to live in the house, when it becomes clear they can take care of themselves without supervision.
They would then ideally stay for about six months and gain employment before moving on to live by themselves.
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