Chichester churches considering options for a homeless shelter

Sponsored camp out event by NCS group based at the Phoenix Centre, Bognor for Stonepillow. Pic Steve Robards  SR1623591 SUS-160408-175908001
Sponsored camp out event by NCS group based at the Phoenix Centre, Bognor for Stonepillow. Pic Steve Robards SR1623591 SUS-160408-175908001

The city’s churches are coming together to try to help Chichester’s homeless.

Church leaders hope to see if they can provide emergency winter accommodation for the city’s rough sleepers

A meeting of the city’s church leaders took place yesterday (Wednesday) and a suitable property is being sought out.

It would follow a successful model in Brighton where churches run homeless accommodation.

However, there are a number of issues still to be ironed out, such as training volunteers to stay overnight each night and funding.

Ahead of yesterday’s meeting, canon Mark Payne, from St Pancras Church, said: “All the city’s churches are concerned about the number of rough sleepers, we want to do something about it.

“We have a meeting with church leaders and the diocese about providing emergency accommodation for the street homeless during the winter months.

“Together with Revelation, we then have a meeting with Chichester District Council next week to discuss it.

“A lot of residents were concerned about the number of people sleeping rough last year. All the churches in Chichester want to be involved in some way.”

Following the meeting, Mark said it had been a success but many things still needed to be resolved.

He said: “We want to do it this year as a trial, but a lot of work needs to be done and it may not be possible with winter coming soon.

“It’s quite complex but it’s something churches do in Worthing and Brighton so it’s not reinventing the wheel.

“We want to work with Stonepillow and the Four Streets Project. It’s meeting a gap Stonepillow aren’t able to meet but at the same time we want their expertise in training volunteers.”

St Pancras runs a breakfast club on Mondays for the homeless, Revelation a hot lunch on Tuesdays and Chichester Baptist Church put on Sunday lunch twice a month.

The Four Streets Project – a group of volunteers who bring hot food and blankets to people on Chichester’s four central streets – say between two and eight people are on the city’s streets each night.

The Observer and the Four Streets are again planning to run a community coat rack after last’s years success.

We cannot base it outside HSBC this year so we are seeking a city centre business who wants to help, though we would maintain overall responsibility.

Anyone interested in discussing this should email stephen.pickthall@jpress.co.uk

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