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Take part in Grantham sleep-out to help the homeless

Churches across Grantham have responded to a rallying cry to help the homeless this winter.

Rector of St Wulfram’s Church Father Stuart Cradduck said that over the last few years there has been an increasing number of people who have become homeless with little or no provision for them in the district.

Fr Stuart told the Journal that six to eight people a week are calling at his home asking for help because they have nowhere to go.

The Grantham Ark team. (18987203)
The Grantham Ark team. (18987203)

In response to the situation, Fr Stuart and partner churches have launched ‘Grantham Ark’, which will see churches open their doors during the harshest winter months to those who need shelter.

They also plan to work towards a permanent emergency shelter based in the town.

The initiative also aims to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness with a ‘sleep-out’, which will take place on the night of Friday, December 6, in the grounds of Grantham House.

Fr Stuart said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in this event, to spend the night outside, no matter what the weather, to see a glimpse of what it is like to be homeless for the night.”

The sleep-out will raise money towards an emergency night shelter for the town.

It is open to everyone and more details, registration and sponsorship forms can be found at www.stwulframs.org.uk

In addition to this, St Wulfram’s, Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh day Adventist Church will all be opening their doors to allow homeless people to sleep in their churches.

This will start on Monday, January 6, each night. Each one of the churches will take it in turn to host those who are homeless.

Fr Stuart is appealing for four volunteers to help each night at each location.

Fr Stuart and members of the Grantham Ark committee are approaching community groups and individuals to aks for their help. Anybody interested in volunteering can email granthamark@stwulframs.com

Fr Stuart said the reasons why people find themselves homless are varied and not simply as a result of substance abuse which is often a misconception about why people are having to sleep on the streets, in tents. or take to sofa surfing.

He said that at the moment the clergy and Grantham Passage, which feeds local homeless people and provides a place to wash, can only send people out of the town to Lincoln, Nottingham or Peterborough, if they need to access emergency accommodation.

Fr Stuart added:“We live in a time when those on the ‘edges of society’ are too often forgotten or ignored and I sincerely hope that people will recognise this growing situation and respond to this call for help as the church communities come together to try and help those on the margins of our lives.”

Fr Chris O’Connor, of St Mary’s Church, says the initiative has his full support.

Fr Chris told the Journal: “We want to help as much as we can. I sincerely hope we can get lots of volunteers to help during those cold months and help the homeless with somewhere to sleep. I know this is being doe in other parts of the country so, yes, I am very supportive of it.”

South Kesteven District Council says it is working with local churches to help the homeless.

SKDC cabinet member for housing, Councillor Barry Dobson, said: “We are encouraged to see the churches working together to increase awareness of homelessness and rough sleeping and we are already supporting this.

“Our housing team is meeting members of Churches Together to discuss options for providing accommodation over the winter months.

“Figures from the latest count show there were three people sleeping rough across the district of South Kesteven.”

SKDC said two of the three had refused help.

Coun Dobson added: “With our partners, which include Churches Together, SKDC is committed to the Government’s agenda to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027.

“Every district is different and as part of this ambitious project, SKDC’s Housing Options Team is finalising its priorities to achieve this.

“SKDC has Severe Weather Emergency Provision when the temperature is forecast to be zero degrees or below for three consecutive days or more. We inform partners and the public so that anyone concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough can refer them to us for accommodation during bad weather.

“People referred to SKDC in an emergency are not directed outside the district for help.”

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