Church tackles Great Yarmouth’s homeless problem

A GREAT Yarmouth church group is launching a new charity to tackle what it sees as the town’s growing crisis of homelessness.

Members of Park Baptist Church, in Crown Road, plan to create a crisis fund to pay for three nights emergency accommodation for people who have nowhere to stay.

The volunteers, who are in the process of applying for charitable status, hope local guesthouses will rally to the cause by offering concessionary rates.

Retired police officer Brian Robinson, 63, who helps to run the church’s Tuesday morning drop-in, said they were seeing a worrying increase in the number of people facing homelessness; often they had mental health problems and were unable to navigate themselves through the benefits system.

His big concern was that the government’s benefits shake-up combined with the grim economic outlook would make the situation even worse.

The former detective inspector said the Herring House Trust was currently the only local provider of hostel accommodation for the homeless.

“It is an enormous problem trying to find somewhere for people to stay. Earlier this year we sent someone all the way to Ipswich to find a bed for the night,” he said.

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“In the summer, we were unable to help one homeless couple and in the end could only suggest that they slept under the pier.”

David Minister, 56, a street pastor who leads a church group seeking out homeless people on Tuesday evenings to offer them food, hot drinks and advice, said they often found as many as five rough sleepers.

He said: “They are difficult to find because they hide in places like under the pier because of the yob element in the town. Many get beaten up when people come out of the pubs if they are seen.”

The church drop-in, which regularly attracts 30 people, is funded by the volunteers and the new charity will also be reliant on voluntary donations.

Anyone wishing to help is asked to call David on 07711-451020 or contact Brian via his website

The church has also launched a Christmas shoebox appeal and is inviting donations of children’s gifts small enough to be fitted in a shoebox. Ring David or deliver them to 86 Middlemarket Road.