Milestone for Sidmouth cause that helps homeless

Volunteers celebrated Gateway's first birthday last week

Volunteers celebrated Gateway's first birthday last week - Credit: Archant

An organisation has supported 18 people facing homelessness since the deaths of two rough sleepers in Sidmouth prompted its formation.

Gateway marked its first birthday by looking back on some of its successes – from helping some homeless people into housing to providing hot meals over Christmas, and advocating for those who face homelessness.

It tied the celebrations to a send-off for the Reverend Mark Barrett, a valued member of the working group, who is leaving for Jersey and his first post as vicar.

Gerry Shattock, who chairs the Gateway management committee, said: “We know that the most vulnerable in society can easily slip into being homeless. The work of Gateway is to work on both sides of this fine balance with both the street homeless and those on the verge of losing their accommodation.

“We often find that these people need guidance and help with managing their way through what, to them, are very complex processes.”

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Gateway was formed after the deaths of Tommy Duffy and Bradley Forrest last year. Both had been sleeping rough.

Its aims are to help homeless and vulnerable people to access existing provision and practical resources, and to act as an advocate in the wider community. It also works to identify rough sleepers and alert other agencies, and to liaise with existing service providers and other organisations seeking to meet the needs of homeless people.

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Gateway’s two case workers are Ann Worthington and Lesley Crawford.

Ann said: “We respond whenever we encounter street homelessness in the Sid Valley and we give continuing support to previously-homeless people in order to help them maintain their tenancies when they have been housed.

“In order to reduce the numbers who are at risk of being made homeless, we also work with people who are vulnerably housed.

“We are delighted with our results so far in 2016 and hope to sustain this level of successful intervention with current and future referrals.”

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