PFCC funds one-stop hub to help homeless people in Chelmsford
Homeless people in Chelmsford are now able to access a one-stop hub providing free food and drink, health checks, addiction and mental health rehabilitation, housing and training to get back into work.
Since 2011, Sanctus has been operating a free café for the homeless of Chelmsford, providing breakfast, hot and cold drinks, snacks and homemade meals.
Now, the charity has evolved to provide accommodation, support, advice and training from the newly opened Sanctus Support Hub, in Broomfield Road.
With about 85 people per day using the café, it was seen as a much-needed next step to not only ensure they were fed, but to help them to take the steps onto a brighter future.
The Hub brings support agencies together to offer a space to engage with the homeless and vulnerable, to support them in their recovery to overcome mental health and addiction issues, restore self-confidence and achieving living and community skills, independence and new homes, employment and independence.
Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, contributed £12,000 to Sanctus Support Hub from the 2019/2020 Community Safety Development Fund.
The funding was used to provide mentoring staff, to pay bills and to help to refurbish the Sanctus building to create the Hub.
Emma Murfitt, Charity Co-ordinator, said: “The Hub refurbishment, which includes mentoring, counselling and training spaces, enables us to help service users with form filling, job applications, CV writing, mentoring and applying for jobs. We also offer counselling, drop-in sessions and group support meetings to help those with mental health and addiction issues. We now have the facilities to support individuals with rehousing, which includes sourcing furniture and providing the ongoing support they need as part of our tenancy sustainment programme.
“The aim was to open a hub where our service users could access the foundational support services that we provide, alongside a wide range of other organisations and services. This includes a space for our service users to receive support and advice from counsellors, Open Road, Helping Hands, gambling support, The Job Centre, debt advisor, the housing dept at Chelmsford City Council, One Support, Reed Employment Support, Help The Homeless Veterans and Chess.
“Our service users come to us through the café and they can now come up to the Hub where we can assess what other support they need and ensure that they get it.”
Since opening the Hub in November, the charity has –
• run more than 1,000 counselling and assistance sessions
• hosted training courses, from ICT skills to warehousing
• built a service user base of 200-240, which continues to grow. The beneficiaries include rough sleepers, day homeless from the Chess Night Shelter and Winter Project, sofa surfers, those recovering from homelessness, those with poor mental health, ex-offenders, veterans who are homeless/suffering PTSD, those with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions and those who are on a low income or elderly who are unable to cater or provide for themselves.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Our vision in our Police and Crime Plan is that safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build success and wellbeing for all. This hub, and its inclusive approach, really has made a huge difference to those who are helped by Sanctus, some of whom are amongst the most vulnerable members of the community, which does great work in Chelmsford. We are delighted to be able to support the expansion of Sanctus’s offer with this funding.”
To find out more about Sanctus go to www.sanctus-home.com