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Sanctuary for rough sleepers closes its doors after four months

PUBLISHED: 10:40 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:40 12 April 2016

Rough sleepers have more than doubled since 2012/2013

Rough sleepers have more than doubled since 2012/2013

Archant

The Cold Weather Shelter worked with Gravesend Methodist Church

A programme helping homeless people find shelter during the winter months has ended.

Since December, Sanctuary, a Christian-based programme involving local volunteers from Gravesend Methodist Church, has been providing a range of support to rough sleepers.

Having closed its doors on April 1, the team of 150 volunteers helped 85 different homeless people, preventing 657 nights spent sleeping rough.

The programme, which provides overnight care, meals support, an opportunity to shower and take clean clothes, provided nearly 1,600 hot meals.

A volunteer at the programme, Priscilla McBean, said: “The thing that struck me most when arriving for my first overnight shift was that it was difficult to tell from appearance who were the guests and who were the volunteers.

“Sometimes it was just the language being spoken that was the give-away.

Guests who were sheltered over the four months also received follow up work to help them access services to help them find housing or work.

A spokesperson from Sanctuary claimed it highlighted other issues in the area: “A number of social issues have been identified through this project which include the fact homelessness is sometimes a result of other underlying issues, for example mental health, and sometimes causes those affected to be stuck in a loop or worse still, taken advantage of.”

Mrs McBean spoke of her experience volunteering with Sanctuary.

She said: “It just reinforced to me that we are all just individuals, but some have been luckier in life than others.”

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