Leamington sees increase of rough sleepers

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More people used the Leamington Night Shelter in the last financial year than in the previous one, which 
suggests that homelessness is either on the rise or not being addressed in the town.

This is the view of joint coordinators Margaret Moore and Chris Johnson, shared in the charity’s annual newsletter published this month.

They said: “During our last financial year we had 293 different individuals, men and women, visit the Night Shelter.

“This has been an increase of 12 per cent as opposed to the previous year.

“Of these 293 different individuals, 73 were deemed to be rough sleepers.

“This has been an increase of 24 per cent as opposed to the previous year.

“This does seem to reflect the trend of homelessness being more visible these days.

“After eight years of keeping records of the numbers of clients who visit the shelter, we are noticing that there always seems to be some clients coming back to us who visited us in the early days of the Night Shelter, i.e. from February 15 2009.

“This may seem to present a long term trend that there are areas of need that have not been addressed.”

The shelter, which uses Radford Road church’s hall, is open on Sunday nights through to Monday mornings and also Wednesday nights through to Thursday mornings.

The shelter has four groups of volunteers from which some take turns to stay overnight for what the coordinators have described as the “most stressful” shift.

Margaret and Chris added: “Our greatest asset are our volunteers.

“The common element all our volunteers have is a good sense of humour.

“This creates a nice relaxed atmosphere at the Night Shelter. We have no rotas for the volunteers, so we are never quite sure how many we will have in any one shift.

“The ‘rule for the volunteers’ is that they come to the shelter when it suits them, and they leave when it suits them.

“We have been operating for over eight years and so far this ‘system’ has worked.”

Since January, the shelter has been buying shoes for its clients who are most in needs.

Millets, in the Parade, has been giving the shelter a discount to buy them.

The shelter also helps those who are faced with eviction notices.

This happened to one female client because she was in debt, and behind with her rent.

The coordinators went to court with her to contest this notice and prevented her from being evicted.

Recently the shelter visited one of its clients who had not been very well.

Margaret and Chris said: “He looked really ill, living and sleeping in very poor conditions where he worked. We eventually persuaded him to agree to us calling an ambulance, and we followed to the hospital. We were there nearly five hours.

“The doctors expressed great concern at the state of his health. He was kept in, and we are pleased to say that the problems with his heart and lungs are clearing and he looks 15 years younger!

“His future looks much brighter, and he is ‘over the moon’ with his health improvement. His own positive attitude has done much to help his recovery. The nurses love him !”

The shelter has also announced that Sidney Syson and Julie Wareing have joined its board of directors which will “put it in a stronger position for the future”.

The co-ordinators said: “Our other asset is our supporters.

“We have never ceased to be amazed at the wide range of sources from which our support comes.

“This includes churches, business organisations, schools and others.”