09:00AM, Friday 13 October 2017
A rough sleeper support group risks becoming homeless itself unless it can find a new facility by the end of the year.
The Brett Foundation will leave its King Street Drop-in Centre, which provides assistance to people on the streets or in poverty, by January.
In June, the council, which leased the building to the group, told founder Sue Brett that from January 2018 it would exercise its right to kick the group out with 24 hours’ notice.
The lease agreement allows this, and it has happened because of the planned redevelopment of the next-door Nicholsons Car Park, she explained.
It means Sue, the volunteers and those it supports will need a new home, but they have struggled to find anywhere since.
“We need to find somewhere now.
“We can pay but we can’t find anywhere.”
She has approached agents only to be told ‘our clients do not want that sort of thing here’.
“I get it,” Sue said, adding that she knew some businesses did not want homeless people nearby.
What can be perceived as abrasive behaviour, however, is sometimes just a front developed from time spent on the street, she said.
“They are really vulnerable,” she added.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, the foundation can afford two years’ rent, but Sue has also found too many leases have a minimum term of five years, which it cannot commit to financially.
Sue is concerned now about whether the foundation will find a new home to replace the Drop-in Centre, which has been used for about six years.
While churches and some organisations in the borough offer help, ‘they do not have that intensive support that we can offer’, Sue said.
“There would be nowhere else for them to go where they could get the support we offer them.”
That includes people with mental health problems, who are worried about the service closing down.
“Because they read the papers, they know that we are going,” Sue said.
“They are nervous, they are worried.”
The foundation would be willing to look at anything, but would like a kitchen, storage space and an office, and the facility needs to be walking distance from the town centre.
Anyone interested in speaking to Sue about leasing space can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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