12:00PM, Thursday 09 November 2017
Homeless people in the town could be put at extra risk if the Brett Foundation cannot find a new home, its founder has warned.
The group, which supports rough sleepers and vulnerable people, is set to leave its King Street drop-in centre by January.
Its lease agreement with the council means the foundation could be told to leave within 24 hours from the end of this year, which means Sue Brett and the volunteers are searching for a new home.
However, nowhere suitable has emerged and staff, and the people who rely on the foundation, are worried.
Sue said: “It is keeping me awake at night.
“We are a lifeline to these guys.”
She is concerned that as the weather gets colder, homeless people could be affected if the centre, which helps 20-30 people a day, had to close without a replacement.
In October last year, homeless man John West died from a chest infection, and a month later rough sleeper Julian Abraham, 62, who was known to friends as ‘Troggy’, died from what was believed to be pneumonia.
“You just don’t know if you are going to find them dead,” Sue said.
“It’s a real risk.”
The drop-in centre provides hot meals, warm clothing and other useful items to help those on the streets through cold nights.
The foundation also works to move the homeless off the street and into housing.
One of those who relies on the centre is Stephen Copas, 46, who is sleeping rough and has depression and anxiety, and gets help for it with the foundation’s assistance.
He has been homeless for four years, and said he has lived in Maidenhead his whole life.
He said: “I come here to get something to eat, get a hot drink.
“Otherwise I would just be sleeping under the trees all my life.”
He added: “I don’t know what I’d do (if the centre had to close).
“It makes you feel as though you want to give up.”
He added that living on the streets was ‘horrible’ in the cold weather, and said he had been assaulted in the last couple of months.
“I feel like a dog,” he said.
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