New homeless shelter in Eltham set to be completed by January

By Kiro Evans, Local Democracy Reporter

A huge new homeless shelter will soon open in Greenwich.

The new location in Eltham will see a permanent place for people in the borough without a home.

Charity Greenwich Winter Night Shelter (GWNS) hope to have the construction finished by January.

It brings to an end the charity’s unique previous model, where seven local churches provided seven different locations in a week to give rough sleepers a place to stay.

Now all their efforts will go towards this building, which will be supported by staff and over 300 volunteers.

A new communal area will see the launch of a day centre where rough sleepers can receive healthcare and specialist advice.

Development manager Katy Ridsdill-Smith revealed the thinking behind the changes.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Something that had always been in the back of our minds is that having to move every single night can be quite an unstable experience and challenging for a number of guests.

“So we’ve been thinking for a while if we could find a building and set up a static shelter to have everything running from that one place to provide more stability and consistency.

“So this year we’ve acquired a lease on a building in Eltham and we’re currently in the process of renovating that building. The building is great and we’ll be able to accommodate up to nine people in the first instance with the scope to increase.

The GWNS returns after being forced to miss out providing services in 2020 due to Covid restrictions and the “Everyone In” scheme.

Katy fears a difficult winter for vulnerable people following the end of the project.

She said: “I think we saw the incredible effort of the “Everyone In” initiative during the pandemic and it was a good indication of what can be done and sets the standard for what is acceptable and finding alternative solutions.

“Given the wider political environment of coronavirus, Brexit, cuts to [benefits], inflationary pressures and the eviction ban being lifted, there’s a big unknown about what the landscape will look like this winter. I think people are worried about what we are going to see. Things are tough right now.”

 


 

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