12:00PM, Thursday 28 December 2017
Charity volunteers have been given a stay of execution following weeks of worry they would be kicked out of their home at a moment’s notice.
From New Year’s Day the Brett Foundation could have been thrown out of its King Street drop-in centre with just one day’s notice due to the terms of its lease with the council.
However, last week officers at the Royal Borough told the homelessness charity it could stay until Easter. An exact date was not set.
Sue Brett, the organisation’s founder, said the group was still looking to move as the lease terms would mean they could be thrown out within 24 hours after Easter.
But she expressed ‘relief’ about having more time to relocate as an appeal to find a new home has been unsuccessful.
“It has put us all to the brink of insanity,” Sue said. “It’s all taken the focus away from what we needed to do.”
The service provided by the charity is vital, she said, as it prevents deaths.
The drop-in centre provides hot food and essential items for rough sleepers.
Homeless people are especially vulnerable during winter and Sue singled out January as a tough month to survive.
She said: “If they didn’t have anywhere to go, there would be more on the streets and we would have more deaths.”
Sue said three months ago, the foundation’s staff had to call an ambulance after a rough sleeper suffered a heart attack while getting some food from the drop-in centre.
She said his family believed if a town centre homelessness charity had not been available, ‘he would have been in a tent by the river and nobody would have known’.
The unit is due to be demolished eventually so it can make way for the replacement to the Nicholsons car park.
Cllr Jack Rankin (Con, Castle Without), the cabinet member for economic development, property and deputy finance, said: “We have another shop on the row with their drop-in centre and we have said we will meet early next year to see if that works for them as a space.
“We are doing our utmost to facilitate and support the good work of the Brett Foundation with our assets.”
The Brett Foundation also has to move its white goods from a unit in The Colonnade next week ahead of the demolition of the shops in the new year.
Anyone with space for the charity can email Sue on firstname.lastname@example.org
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