A grant of more than £115,000 has enabled the “999 Club,” a Lewisham charity to open its night shelter for rough sleepers all year from September.
The charity will be one of the beneficiaries of £275,000 pounds given to Lewisham Council from the Government’s £30m Rough Sleeper Initiative, to expand vital services for homeless people. This is the first time the Deptford-based charity has received major Government funding for its work and comes in the wake of an increase in rough sleepers in Lewisham.
The grant will enable the 999 Club, which has been running for 25 years, to open its night shelter for seven days a week, from mid-September through until at least late-March 2019; this allows a 50 per cent increase in capacity to 30 places a night. An extra member of staff will be employed.
Tim Fallon, CEO of the 999 Club said: “We are delighted that the 999 Club will be able to expand its night shelter to be able to provide a safe, warm place for more people sleeping rough, locally.”
Highlighting the need for night shelters during the summer, Fallon added: “Homelessness does not just happen during the winter months – it’s a year round crisis. With this grant, we can open every night from the autumn until at least net spring, nabling us to support more people to get back on their feet.”
Giselle, 46, one of the beneficiaries of the charity’s services, said: “It is a good job that there are places like this. I was on the streets during the storms. The weather was horrendous, the thunder very dangerous. I feel revived now. If you feel you have a goal and are working towards something productive you feel better. I don’t feel as exhausted as i did. Now, I have things to apply for.”
Previously the charity ran the shelter just in winter, providing beds for ten people over a course of ten weeks during the coldest months of the year. However, the number of people seen by outreach workers as rough sleeping in Lewisham has rapidly increased in recent years up by 270 per cent between 2011/12 and 2016/17. Responding to this, the capacity of the night shelter has doubled since January 2018.
The new grant means the shelter will operate continuously every night until spring. Each guest that arrives is given toileteries, bedding, ear plugs, eye masks, access to a shower, a laundry service and computers as well as daily dinner and breakfast. They are also assigned a case manager who assists with securing any missing IDs, accessing or maximising benefits, receiving healthcare, getting a job and securing housing.
More details of their work can be found on their official website: www.999Club.org.