Three charities win £130,000 in Government funding to help North Staffordshire’s homeless


Three North Staffordshire charities have secured nearly £130,000 of Government funding to help them support hundreds of homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saltbox, the Gingerbread Centre and Honeycomb Charitable Services were among 132 homelessness charities in England to submit successful bids to a £6 million fund.

The charities have seen increased demand for services during the coronavirus outbreak, with many of their clients self-isolating, while donations from the public have fallen.

Along with providing accommodation to people who might otherwise be sleeping rough or sofa-surfing, the organisations help them with problems such as addiction and mental health issues.

Honeycomb Charitable Services has been allocated £57,975, while Saltbox is getting £45,000 and the Gingerbread Centre £27,000.

Saltbox supports more than 100 homeless people through its Restart programme, providing them with housing and help with complex needs.

Lloyd Cooke, chief executive of Saltbox, said: “We are delighted to receive this grant. It will be used to give additional support to local homeless people.

“We’re currently supporting over 100 people, including some who are self-isolating. Many of the people we help have multiple complex needs, and so they’re not the easiest people to support.

Lloyd Cooke, chief executive of Saltbox Christian Centre.

“This is a difficult time for charities like us as we have seen donations fall, so we are grateful for this help.”

The Gingerbread Centre, based in Normacot, provides supported accommodation to homeless families and single pregnant women at its Rothesay Court facility. Gingerbread also has a separate facility for teenage parents.

Chief executive Wendy Hocking said: “We were really pleased and relieved to find out that our funding application was successful. It will help us to continue to provide much needed help to the homeless families and teenage parents that we accommodate and support.

“We had lost income, but had increased costs that were about to cause us great difficulties, so this has eased that pressure immensely, giving us a gratefully received helping hand.”

Honeycomb Charitable Services, formerly known as Arch North Staffs, provides a range of homelessness services under its Concrete brand. Concrete aims to ‘erase homelessness’ by helping people at risk of losing their homes, finding accommodation for people who are already homeless, and providing one-to-one guidance to help clients to live independently.

Rough sleeper

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton welcomed the funding awards.

He said: “Everyone across our city has faced difficulties in adapting to the situation presented to us by the Covid-19 lockdown, but it is important that we do not overlook just how difficult this has been for some of the most vulnerable and especially homeless people.

“It is virtually impossible to follow social distancing measures if you are sleeping on the streets, and this is compounded by there being fewer people out and about to spot when people are in desperate need.

“Local charities have been doing great work to help people into accommodation where they need it, even as their own funding opportunities have diminished, so I’m pleased the Government has stepped in to make sure this vital work can continue.”

Homelessness minister Luke Hall said: “The staggering effort between councils and charities across the country has ensured that over 90 per cent of rough sleepers known to councils at the start of the pandemic have been offered safe accommodation. This work has helped to protect thousands of lives.

“This money will help charities continue to support these people and ensure they are getting everything they need to prevent them from returning to a life on the streets so they can rebuild their lives once and for all.”

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