A Grantham charity which helps homeless and vulnerable people is celebrating its 12th year.
Grantham Passage held its first session on December 13, 2001, and exactly 12 years later project co-ordinator Ruby Stuckey and fellow volunteers celebrated the milestone with a cake and candles at the church hall in Finkin Street, which hosts the Passage on Mondays and Fridays.
Ruby said she always thought the charity would continue because the financial situation has not improved since those early days. She said: “I am very proud of it, but also indebted to a good group of volunteers and the support of the churches in Grantham.”
The Grantham Passage was started up because of the number of people contacting them with nowhere to live, nowhere to go and who were hungry and short of money. Many were people with drug or alcohol problems, Some had only just been released from prison or were victims of relationship breakdowns.
The day centre evolved to provide hot food, shelter, company and a listening ear. Five churches now provide a place for people to go over six days a week. A proportion of clients are rough sleepers but most are vulnerably housed, meaning they are sleeping on somebody else’s floor or sofa or are finding it difficult to live on benefits.
Those people using the Passage can get extra help from Grantham Poverty Concern in an emergency, in the form of food vouchers or a utility credit card to allow somebody to ‘sofa surf’. During the winter the Passage has been able to help people with warm clothing.
One man, who did not want to give his real name, has used the Passage since losing his job a few years ago and says the charity is invaluable. He has just fought off repossession of his house.
He said: “You feel less isolated here when you are out of work. You are treated with dignity and respect.” He said one of the most important things about the Passage was the company people get.
Some agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and the homeless and vulnerable people charity Framework have drop-in sessions so that people using the Passage can get advice on a range of subjects such as benefits and accommodation.
Bridget Sheeren and Andy Lee, of Framework, were on hand on Friday with advice. Bridget helps those people who tend to be ‘sofa surfers’ while Andy deals with people living on the streets. He said at any one time at least one person in Grantham will be out on the street and it is his job to try and get them accommodation. If a homeless person does get a roof over their head, Bridget may work with them to help them stay there.
The Grantham Passage Day Centre is open at Finkin Street Methodist Church on Mondays and Fridays from 10am to noon, at St Mary’s opposite Asda on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am to 11.30am, on Thursdays at St Wulfram’s Church Hall between noon and 1.30pm and on Sundays at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Dudley Road between 9.30am and 11.30am.
Grantham Passage is funded entirely by donations and gifts of food. If you would like to make a donation, cheques can be made payable to Grantham Poverty Concern.