Mayor admits he got it wrong over homeless shelter

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A DECADE ago Dennis Steadman was a member of the public leading a campaign against the opening of a homeless shelter.

But he has now been back to the shelter, at 101 Gosport Road in Fareham, as Cllr Steadman, the mayor of Fareham, and admitted he got it wrong.

The shelter, run by Two Saints, held an open day for locals to come along, meet some of the people who stay there and see what work is done there to help them get their lives back on track.

It has also been given a refurbishment creating two extra rooms out of unused office and storage space, bringing the total up to 18.

Cllr Steadman said: ‘Back in 2004 when this was put in for planning application, people around here went absolutely bonkers and because of this, I represented them, but I wasn’t on the council at the time.

‘I took more than 200 people up to the council chamber for the meeting about it; they came along with banners and all sorts and I fought in the council chamber for my residents.

‘I lost and now I’m glad I lost.’

The shelter opened its doors in 2004.

‘I never believed I would ever say this back at that time, but I think they have done wonders for the service’s users and the people who stay here,’ Cllr Steadman added.

‘I can only give them my congratulations for all their success and let’s hope that the hostel goes from strength to strength.’

Two Saints chief executive Louise Barnden said: ‘We have lost a lot of funding over the past year, it’s been quite significant.

‘But we haven’t cut any services to the front line, even though we have had to make these savings. I think what we do here fits in remarkably well with the community and that’s testament to the way it’s run day-to-day because we have people coming here with a complex mix of issues.’

John Waldron, 65, of Longfield Avenue in Fareham, found himself at the shelter when he hit financial trouble and lost his home. He said: ‘When I said I was coming here, other people associated it with drunks and druggies, but it’s not been like that, it has been absolutely fantastic.

‘The help they gave me in setting myself up again was amazing.’

And Paul Crawford, 48, said: ‘Without this place I’d be dead. I want to get my own place and with their help, I hope I can achieve that.’