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Portsmouth builds on success of its pilot scheme to house the homeless

16 November 2018


Bedding down at a shelter in Portsmouth diocese’s Open Church project

Bedding down at a shelter in Portsmouth diocese’s Open Church project

A HOMELESSNESS project in Portsmouth diocese is set to expand this winter, after its take-up earlier this year.

Open Church meant that seven Portsmouth churches hosted vulnerable people each night for four weeks in January and February this year. Ten people were housed as part of the project, which resulted in some gaining employment through a work trial.

All seven churches have signed up for the 2019 repeat, with the number of beds increased to 12.

The project’s organiser, Lorna Sandland, who is community development worker at St Simon’s, Southsea, said: “We committed ourselves last winter to a limited pilot scheme, giving a hot meal and a bed to the same ten vulnerable people every night for four weeks.

“Because our guests had the basics of food and accommodation sorted out, they could flourish in a calmer atmosphere, build relationships, and reflect on how to move on from their circumstances.

“I was also impressed that 200 volunteers came forward from local churches, offering to cook, build relationships with our guests, and sleep overnight in church alongside them. Their generous hospitality helped to confirm that we should expand the project in 2019.

“The need is definitely there. Currently, there are around 200 people sleeping rough in Portsmouth, and many choose not to use the beds that are currently available. We hope that offering food, beds, and a chance to make real friendships will encourage a greater take-up. The fact that we can offer the same venues as last winter certainly helps with this.”

Each church will open its doors on a different night of the week for the 12 homeless people. Among the churches involved are St Jude’s, St Simon’s, Immanuel Baptist Church, King’s Church, Eastney Methodist Church, and St Swithun’s RC Church.

The churches would appreciate any volunteers or donations for the project. It is being supported by the Society of St James, and will run between January and March.

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