12:00PM, Monday 07 October 2019
Homelessness in the borough is worse than last year, and more older people and families are needing help, a charity founder has said.
Sue Brett, of the Brett Foundation, said families and older people usually put their problems down to issues with the Universal Credit welfare payment.
Her remarks come days after Maidenhead MP Theresa May was shown around one of the Brett Foundation’s key tools in helping the borough’s most vulnerable.
Sue told the Advertiser this week that there are ‘more (homeless people) than last year – a lot more’, and added: “We are seeing a lot more older people and families being referred to us as well, more than we have ever had before.”
Those are not necessarily people who are immediately at risk of ending up on the streets – the foundation also supports families living in poverty.
Those referred to her put the blame on Universal Credit, the welfare payment, which can take five weeks to be paid in after making a claim.
“That seems to be what they are telling us,” Sue said.
It is possible to claim for an advance to help with living costs.
She is hoping the new council administration will present a chance to develop a new way of helping the town’s homeless. The foundation did not often get on with former council leader Simon Dudley.
Asked if she hoped for a new start with the borough, Sue said: “I really hope so, I really hope that we can draw a line under the past. There is so much that we can do to help each other.
“We are on the ground, we are seeing the people.
“We are willing to do things to help them get on their feet.
“We do not have to have lots of money, which I understand the council does not have at the moment.
“We can do a service for them. But we need the premises to do it.”
Her comments come after Theresa May MP was shown around a purple double-decker bus that is kitted out to help the homeless in Maidenhead.
Howard – which stands for Hope On Wheels Around the Royal District – will be out again this winter. It has beds and a kitchen, and is staffed with volunteers to look after rough sleepers.
It was bought when the Brett Foundation worried it would need to leave its King Street site ahead of regeneration works, but it remains there, looking for a new permanent base.
The bus is parked at the Maidenhead Synagogue car park and travels into the town centre to help people.
Rabbi Jonathan Romain, from the synagogue, tweeted on Sunday that he had shown Mrs May around the bus, and Sue said she was ‘impressed’.
Is this Harry Potter’s ‘Night Bus’? No, it’s one we are converting into a shelter for the homeless in Maidenhead, with local MP Theresa May admiring the bunk beds (upstairs) and kitchen/loo (downstairs) where the seats used to be. pic.twitter.com/a7pos7m1gx— Jonathan Romain (@RabbiRomain) September 29, 2019
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.