Help for Wycombe homeless

HOMELESS people living on the streets of High Wycombe will be offered a helping hand this winter in a night shelter project run by the town's churches.

The Wycombe Winter Night Shelter will launch on January 7 and run for three months, offering meals, basic accommodation and advice for people on how to get back on their feet.

Seven churches will each become a temporary shelter for one night per week in the scheme, based on a system already working in 15 London boroughs,including Camden and Islington.

The service will offer 12 places each night and each guest will be offered accommodation for up to 28 days.

Reverend Paul Willis, curate at All Saints Church in Castle Street, said: "Homelessness requires so much energy to keep moving, feed yourself, keep warm and safe - which means not sleeping much as that makes you vulnerable. People have said to us, All I need is two or three good night's sleep to get me back on track'.

"Many of them don't have a drug or alcohol problem, they've just ended up on the streets because of a breakdown in a relationship, a job or finances."

Organisers say the team of volunteers drawn from each church intend to act as a support network and advice centre in collaboration with other services to help people use their 28-day stay to turn their fortune around.

Sheena Dykes, from the Union Baptist Church in Easton Street, said: "The volunteers are not counsellors or experts, although some will bring certain skills from their professions, but they are there to offer friendship and to signpost people to other services.

"We can give homeless people the simplest help like giving them access to a phone, help filling in forms or accompanying them to a service for moral support. We will learn more about what people need as we go along. It will evolve and grow organically."

Church staff expect the majority of guest to be single male adults, who can struggle find help from services that target women and children experiencing homelessness.

The churches are as follows.

Trinity United Reformed Church, Easton Street, High Wycombe.

All Saints Parish Church, Castle Street, High Wycombe.

St John's, Desborough Road, High Wycombe.

Union Baptist Church, Easton Street, High Wycombe.

Wesley Methodist Church, Priory Road, High Wycombe.

St Mary's and St George's, Rutland Avenue, High Wycombe.

Holy Trinity, Hazlemere

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