A charity project which has transformed the lives of rough sleepers in Peterborough celebrated its second year anniversary on Thursday as it continues to provide crucial support during the coronavirus pandemic.
By Joel LamyFriday, 9th October 2020, 4:15
The Garden House in the Cathedral Precincts is run by Light Project Peterborough which has played a crucial role in supporting the most vulnerable during the crisis, both in getting rough sleepers off the streets and supporting them in hotels.
But despite pride at hitting its second birthday celebrations have been muted with expectations of a tough winter ahead.
Light Project Peterborough CEO Steven Pettican said: “We’ve supported the local authority since lockdown to ensure all rough sleepers can get accommodation off the streets through hotels. That’s been a big project for us. We’ve been running 24/7 support staff teams in those hotels alongside the LA.
Steven Pettican (right) and some of the team at the Garden House celebrate their second anniversary.
“We’ve seen lots of people who previously would not have engaged with the authorities. With love and support they are doing well.”
Supporting rough sleepers in hotel accommodation is due to last until at least the end of the month, but even when that eventually ends there will be no slowing down for Garden House staff and volunteers who will continue to provide a range of assistance.
This has now extended to the Peterborough Multi-Agency Floating Support Scheme which Light Project Peterborough is leading on.
With assistance from housing associations Cross Keys Homes and the Longhurst Group, six members of staff (soon to increase to eight) are helping rough sleepers who have moved into accommodation receive the support they need to keep them there long-term.
Steven added: “We’re targeting 100 people to help them keep their homes. We’ve previously supported people but some ended up back on the streets.
“As taxpayers all of us put a lot of money into getting people off the streets, but some go back there as nobody is helping them with things like accessing benefits, paying energy bills or getting a job.
“With a bit more investment we won’t have to help them off the streets again. It’s exciting as we get to see them through the whole journey. We can help them with things like housing, doctors’ appointments and getting a job.
“It’s good for us all to see people going through the whole process.”
But despite the long hours during this tough year, there will be no let up in the efforts to make sure the most vulnerable have somewhere warm to sleep as temperatures drop.
“We’ve been open throughout the pandemic,” Steven added.
“It’s going to be a long, hard winter, but we are still here and aren’t going anywhere. We hope people will get with us this winter.
“It’s tough at the moment. We wanted a bigger celebration for the anniversary but we couldn’t do that. We had some cake and said ‘well done’ to each other. We will keep plugging on.”
Donations can be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/lightprojectpeterborough.