Catching Lives has been forced to make the difficult decision it cannot afford to run its Winter Homeless Shelter this year.
We have been running a Winter Shelter providing warm church-based overnight accommodation for rough sleepers in Canterbury between December and February and sometimes longer since 2010. During the pandemic, the YHA and local B&Bs helped keep the service running. In 2022 the shelter did not run but Catching Lives extended its winter hours and hoped to bring back the Shelter in 2023.
Tasmin Maitland, Chief Executive of Catching Lives, said: “Providing people sleeping rough with a warm place to stay during the gruelling winter months has always been important to us.
“However, the cost-of-living crisis has made 2023 a really challenging year with the double whammy of more people needing our services and the public understandably having less money to support charities.
“Sadly, we have been forced to take the difficult decision not to run our Winter Shelter, because of these financial pressures. We will focus instead on maintaining our seven-day drop-in services, and we’ll work with the council’s Rough Sleeping team to find routes off the street for people sleeping rough.
“It’s frustrating, as we are seeing more people in need, and the churches were ready to support us again, and yet we can’t open a shelter.
“There are real risks to people sleeping rough when the temperature drops in winter. It’s difficult to stay dry and warm, and people’s health really suffers from being wet and cold.
“We need to raise a significant amount of money to ensure our essential services are available every day during this difficult time, and to extend our winter provision if we can.”
Catching Lives is launching a Winter Appeal to raise £50,000 to secure essential services for people who are homeless in Canterbury and East Kent during the winter months.
People who come to the charity’s Day Centre in Station Road East receive a warm welcome, food and drink for the day, one-to-one support, clothing, sleeping bags and tents, as well as a place to have a hot shower, do laundry and access a computer.
On average, 30 people a day visit the centre and it costs the charity on average £19 per person a day to cover essential help.
Tasmin added: “This is an ambitious fundraising appeal and no donation is too small. Please do get in touch if you’d like to run a fundraiser or sponsored event to help us. If we raise enough money, we hope to extend our services in winter. Thank you to everyone who supports us already through volunteering and your generous donations.”
People can donate to Catching Lives’ Winter Appeal via a JustGiving campaign page here.