Homeless people given guidance on next steps as part of Gosport Open Doors' latest project

A HEALTHY lunch in Gosport gave rough sleepers a chance to speak with volunteers and mentors about their next steps.

Monday, 10th August 2020, 12:49 pm
Updated Monday, 10th August 2020, 2:24 pm

Volunteers have been supporting the town’s homeless population throughout the pandemic, and last Wednesday saw people attend the Open Doors Next Steps Club at St Mary’s Church Hall, including mayor of Gosport, Councillor Zoe Huggins.

Hot drinks, a meal and cakes were handed out as part of the three-phase program which will cover mental health, drink and drugs and budgeting to help get people back on their feet.

Located in Walpole Park, 30 cabins have been housing rough sleepers since they were installed in April.

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Gosport Open Doors held its fourth lunch for homeless people in the town. Pictured: Zoe Huggins, mayor of Gosport, Neil James from Acts of Kindness, Heather Whitewood, volunteer and cook and Fiona Allen from Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth

A lot of the residents of these pods took part in the Gosport Open Doors project run by Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth from January to March, where churches were opened as night shelters for winter.

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Kevin Gallagher, director of Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth, said: ‘What was good was the relationships between the guests and the volunteers, there really was no trouble because we were treating them like human beings.

‘We realised there are people who are ready to move on and get back into life again so we thought how can we keep in touch with them and maintain that contact which seemed to be the magic of the whole project.’

Gosport Open Doors held its fourth lunch for homeless people in the town. Pictured: Zoe Huggins, mayor of Gosport, and Gary Walker from the Open Doors committee with toiletries and snack hampers made by Rachel Mather

Gary Walker is on the Open Doors committee, and has continued to support the project since lockdown began, including the Wednesday lunch clubs.

He said: ‘Lockdown did not stop Open Doors, we carried on delivering food and toiletries to the cabins and around Gosport area with the help of Acts of Kindness.

‘Wednesday was our fourth luncheon for the rough sleepers of the Gosport area and word is spreading very fast. It's a great place to come for a chat with our mentors or just a natter with our team.’

Recently, members of the council's Policy and Organisation Board authorised continued spending on the cabins beyond the £189,000 agreed at the beginning of the crisis.

The council has said it is planning, with the help of government funding, to ensure that people continue to get the specialist support they need and that as few as possible return to the streets.

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