Homelessness is much closer to us than we might like to believe. Relationship breakdowns; family disagreements; losing your job and income; or falling out with friends can all lead to homelessness and despair, as well as related problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues. The most recent statistics (2014-15) show that the South West was the region in the UK with the biggest percentage increase in homelessness: 41%. [source: Homelink statistics]
Christmas Care is often asked by volunteers about the charitable help given to Swindon's homeless community outside the festive period. Listed below are some of the other local Council-backed projects and registered charities that volunteers may want to get involved with.
Big Breakfast + has been providing a cooked breakfast in central Swindon to those in need across the borough since 1993. It also helps those who are without accommodation to engage with support services. It currently operates from 7 – 9 am, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year except while Christmas Care is running.
Further information: http://bigbreakfastplus.org.uk
The Swindon Night Shelter is a Christian homeless charity, operating in the Swindon area, which runs a night shelter every Friday night in a church hall. It offers a hot meal, a chance to shower and wash clothes and a bed for the night. There’s also an opportunity to relax, chat, receive advice about help and support and hear God’s word. The shelter works closely with the other services in Swindon to provide signposting and support for guests throughout the week.
Further information: http://www.swindonnightshelter.org.uk
Booth House, in central Swindon, is run by the Salvation Army and provides accommodation for men and women experiencing homelessness with low to medium support needs. The team there work with residents to identify their needs to achieve independent living. They offer a range of activities that help build self esteem, relationships and develop a sense of purpose and drive.
Further information: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/booth-house-swindon and https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/volunteer-for-us
Threshold Housing Link is a local independent charity which provides emergency, short, medium and long term accommodation and support to single homeless people in Swindon. It runs a number of accommodation facilities, catering for different client groups; a day centre; and an outreach service.
Further information: http://www.thl.org.uk
The Filling Station is a mobile kitchen that sets up in the loading bay Queens Street, (off Bridge Street), Swindon every Thursday from 7pm – 8:15pm. It has been running for many years to help the homeless people of Swindon.
A team serves soup, hot and cold drinks, hotdogs, and a variety of cakes and biscuits, while building relationships and just talking to the people who come along. In addition to this, the team is able to hand out to each attendee a ‘care package’ which contains a variety of basic essentials ranging from toothbrushes to blankets, that help them get through the week. This service is supported by local homeless housing centres.