Homeless hunt for Christmas shelter

HOMELESS people could be left on the streets of London at Christmas because the charity that runs their seasonal shelters can’t find a suitable building.

The warning comes from the Whitechapel HQ of Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people, which only has six days left to find a suitable place.

Otherwise it will be left 150 beds short if it can’t find a property to borrow in the East End or the City to house one of its nine ‘Crisis at Christmas’ centres being set up next week—potentially leaving the homeless out in the cold.

“Our fear is that without this last building we will be 150 beds short of our target,” said Mick Bateman, who heads the project.

“We have managed to secure eight buildings—but we are still one short.

“It means we won’t be able to accommodate many who desperately need a bed over Christmas.”

The shelter project starts next Wednesday, December 23, and runs until the following Wednesday, December 30, one day before New Year’s Eve.

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It provides 2,500 homeless and vulnerably-housed men and women with companionship and support to alleviate loneliness and isolation over the Yultide week, while also helping them take their first steps out of homelessness.

Around 8,000 volunteers are helping to run nine centres dotted across London which will also offer training and education opportunities.

Eight centres are already in place, hosted by academies and colleges.

But due to last minute withdrawals, one building remains to be found, ideally between 20,000 and 60,000 sq feet.

The charity is calling on businesses and organisations to offer empty buildings for Christmas either in East London, or the City, south-east London and the Southbank.

It could be an office block or public building. Crisis will handle utility costs such as gas and electric, as well as planning and insurance issues, and promises to return the property in the same state—or better.

Ideally, it should have mains water, electricity, gas and heating systems, kitchen or space where a kitchen can be set up, outdoor areas for dental units and services parking, and preferably close to public transport.

Anyone who can offer premises can contact Crisis at Christmas on 020-7036 2824, or email mick.bateman@crisis.org.uk.