Swindon has multiple charities supporting homeless people within the community. Christmas Care is one of these charities which has been providing support for homeless and vulnerable people in Swindon over the Christmas season since 1998.
Last Christmas the charity took residence at Buckhurst Park Community Centre in Walcot. From Christmas Eve to 28 December guests were provided with food, donated provisions such as clothes and toiletries, shower facilities and a secure overnight shelter. Organisers of Christmas Care said they were pleasently overwhelmed by the amount of generous donations which they received from local residents and volunteers.
Christmas Care Chairman, Diane Killick, said: "Christmas Care 2017 was busy, with old and new faces. We achieved what we set out to do, which was provide food (which was very good) shelter, and hospitality.
"We saw an average of 25 folk each day, with more on Christmas Day whereby over 50 dinners were served.
"Volunteer meetings were very well attended, and all the volunteers were brilliant. All the remaining donations were distributed to Big Breakfast Plus, Booth House, Culveray Court, The Filling Station, Nightshelter, and Carfax Street - all of which are local agencies that support the homeless throughout the year."
On top of Christmas Care's organisers and volunteers, support and charitable donations were also provided by the Bible Life Fellowship Church at Gorse Hill and Swindon Hindu Temple Trust.
Pradeep Bhardwaj, of Swindon Hindu Temple commented: "There is no bigger joy than to serve the people who need help. The first part of our day was dedicated to preparing and serving a hot Indian food buffet, and then distributing clothes to the homeless people at the Christmas Care shelter.
"It was so inspiring to meet and talk to all the kind volunteers at Christmas Care - our sincere gratitude to all who helped make this happen. This is what humanity is all about."
Every volunteer had their own reasons for participating. There were those who have personal experiences with homelessness, others understood the need for community support, and some just wanted to play their part which in the long run will hopefully help alleviate homelessness in Swindon.
As part of an 11 week project from January to March, 11 to 17 homeless individuals will be working alongside Swindon Borough Council at Carfax Street.
Guests who cooperate with the council and charities involved will be given a housing offer at the end of the 11 weeks. The Council will then also evaluate the logistics towards future schemes.
Cllr Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, and Mike Ash, Acting Corporate Director of Communities and Housing, said: “The Temporary Winter Housing Provision that has been set up at Carfax Street is a new and innovative approach to supporting Swindon’s population of rough sleepers.
"The project is being supported by health services including GPs, Mental Health professionals as well as the Substance and Alcohol misuse advisors at CGL. We hope to radically improve the health, housing and wider opportunities for as many of these individuals as possible.
“None of this would be possible without the overwhelming support of our committed volunteer base, so we’d like to thank those involved for giving up their time to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
"We’re still looking for more volunteers to support this programme and anyone interested should contact Rachel Holley at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply or to find out more information.”
For further information about the The Temporary Winter Housing Provision, click here.