A new safe haven to give those who are sleeping on the streets a warm place to go during the day, has opened its doors.
Merton Council has teamed up with Commonside Community Development to create a drop-in café for rough sleepers at the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill called the ‘Merton Horizon’ Project . The drop-in, at the centre in South Lodge Avenue is to open for four months over the cold winter months. Residents, businesses and organisations are being asked to help spread the word to ensure those facing days spent on the streets know about the drop in centre.
Anyone sleeping rough is invited to attend the centre from 8.30am on all weekdays where they can enjoy a two-course hot lunch, play table games or watch television. Attendees will also be able to get support and advice with benefits, drug or alcohol addiction, education, training and employment options and help with any paperwork they may need to complete. Merton Council is committed to working with all its partners to tackle both homelessness and rough sleeping and the new drop-in is one of a number of initiatives in the borough.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “It’s just as cold and bleak during the day on the streets as it is at night during times of severe weather, and there is just as many dangers for vulnerable people. There is an increase in night shelter provision in the winter but often people do have leave the premises during the day. This is why we are urging people to help spread the word about this new facility available for rough sleepers.”
“The council is committed to supporting their most vulnerable service users turn their lives around. The centre is a place where people can just come along and relax in a safe warm place, access the support they need or if they like, take part in a range of activities.”
Recently the council hosted a floating hub for rough sleepers in a former community police station in Wilson Avenue in Merton. Rough sleepers were invited to stay in the temporary hub for up to 14 nights in November, while there needs were assessed by St Mungo’s Homeless Charity. Commissioned by the Greater London Authority, St Mungo’s floating hubs aim to bring vital services together under one roof so individual action plans can be made for clients.
The council has strong and established relationship with its partners such as Faith in Action, Winter Night Shelter, Westminster Drug Project, Evolve and the YMCA to help address the needs of rough sleepers including those who are socially isolated or who have mental health or addiction issues. The Winter Night Shelter which runs for a period of 14 weeks is partly funded by Merton Council, Wimbledon Tennis Foundation and other voluntary and community donations, opened for the winter in November. The Merton Horizon project is being run in conjunction with a similar service run by Faith In Action, which is open Wednesday and Friday from 10am until 3pm during the winter months.
If you are concerned about a rough sleeper please let the council know via Street Link which can be contacted via www.streetlink.org.uk. Telephone 0300 500 0914
Notes for editors
The GLA and St Mungo’s have set up and run 16 floating hubs across London and have a successful track record in supporting rough sleepers. The initiative has been found to have a high success rate in helping rough sleepers turn around their lives.