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Catching Lives Latest News: January 2024

Good news from Catching Lives

Welcome to your January 2024 update from Catching Lives. In our last newsletter, we shared the good news that we were going to be able to extend our winter provision. This month, we can share all the details. From January 1 Catching Lives has stayed open until 8pm in the evenings to offer a safe, warm space to people who are homeless or insecurely housed. This is thanks to your ongoing support and so far, our Winter Appeal has raised more than £35k. We have also been awarded a £57k grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. You can read all the details about that on our website.

Extending our opening hours by six hours a day until the end of March means people can stay warm, get a hot dinner daily, as well as the usual breakfast and lunch, and take part in activities including art, table tennis and film club. So far, we’ve had up to 21 people for the evening drop in. Daytimes continue to get busier, with an average of 35 people at morning drop-in this month.


With recent temperatures as low as -3 in Canterbury, Catching Lives has been working to refer people off the streets and into the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) beds. Rooms are out of the district, so, when people are placed in the evening, it’s down to us to provide train tickets, food parcels and toiletries so that people are able to take up the offer of accommodation. SWEP is a life-saving measure, but there are still times when people are not placed and are left with no choice but to risk sleeping rough in freezing temperatures.

It continues to be a challenging time for homelessness charities, as we are seeing increasing need while the costs of delivering our services are rising too, so if you’d like to donate, you can do so via our Winter Appeal JustGiving page. Our CEO Tasmin spoke to Dominic King on BBC Radio Kent about the challenges for rough sleepers during freezing weather. You can listen back from 1:35 here.

The STREETS AHEAD Collective

There are lots of brilliant things happening at Catching Lives and so much to look forward to in 2024. We are excited to be part of a new creative collaboration: The STREETS AHEAD Collective, a four-week pop-up shop pilot in an empty cafe in Canterbury. The project is spearheaded by Liz Wellstead from Rock, Paper, Scissors and Ben Kidger, Head of Visual Arts at EKC Canterbury College and team. Art work by our clients is on sale alongside local artists and students. The shop is open now at what used to be Saffron Cafe in Castle Street until Sunday, February 18. For further information including opening hours, visit our website.

Art created by our clients is also on display at Tesco superstore in Whitstable, thanks to Community Champion Sam Avery. We will be in store on Saturday, February 3. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram for more details.

Are you our next trustee?

Our Board needs new Trustees! We are looking for people with a background or experience of working with small charities, governance and social enterprises.

Trustees ensure that Catching Lives delivers on its mission to end the harm caused by homelessness. This is an opportunity to make an important contribution by helping us to achieve our strategic plans. We want the board to reflect the people we work with and to have a range of different voices, which is why we are particularly keen to hear from applicants from under-represented groups, including people with lived experience of homelessness.

Time commitment is estimated at 2-4 hours per month.

Kent Community Foundation grants

Catching Lives is delighted to have been awarded grants totalling £10k from the Kent Community Foundation on behalf of the Pack Family Endowment Fund and the Crown Charitable Fund. These awards will enable us to continue meeting the needs of people who are homeless and insecurely housed in Canterbury and East Kent, through the provision of one-to-one support at our drop-in.

Some more thank yous

Thanks to you for all your generous and thoughtful donations, especially over the festive period! We appreciate your continued support in 2024. Thank you to our amazing volunteers, across our centre and book shop, and staff for your hard work over Christmas and everyone who has helped cover our extended evening hours. Thank you to all our corporate volunteers and trustees and everyone who gives their time for activities for our clients. We’re always posting how people can help and thank yous to our Facebook and Instagram so do join us there if you can.

We’ve recently updated our list of wanted items on our website. You can see the details here. Thanks again. We’ll be in touch again next month.

Sign up to our newsletter

To receive this newsletter in your inbox, you can sign up here. We post updates throughout the week on Facebook and Instagram.

Donate to Catching Lives Winter Appeal via JustGiving.

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