The rise in Sittingbourne’s homeless population has led St Michael’s Church to launch a new Friday drop-in centre.
St Michael’s new drop-in centre offers help to anyone in need of support
The rise in Sittingbourne’s homeless population has led St Michael’s Church to launch a new Friday drop-in centre to offer help and support in Church House.
The project, which will be officially launched on Friday by The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, will give people a warm welcome, a hot meal and the regular use of showers and a washing machine.
The number of visible rough sleepers in the area has risen from 5 in 2013 to 9 in 2017 and 32 reported in 2018*. In response St Michael’s, their Ignite Team and volunteers from The Bus Shelter Project have created this new project.
Reverend Lesley Jones said: “I was shocked at the level of poverty and homelessness in the parish when I arrived and we have been quietly supporting people wherever we can and working alongside other groups and agencies.
“St Michael’s central location means that we often meet people who are facing homelessness, sofa surfing, or at a loose end, for whatever reason, during the day.
“Slowly we are building relationships and offering pastoral support when needed. On Wednesdays between 11am and 1pm we offer soup, toast and hot drinks at our Place of Welcome in the church which is open to everyone.
“This new Friday drop-in, open at the same time (11am to 1 pm) creates a space where we can offer more specific, practical support and care.”
Funding for this work has come from Church Commissioners, the Bishop’s Advent Justice Appeal and generous donations from local churches. More recently Prince’s Trust volunteers helped to get Church House ready for the drop-in and Swale Borough Councillors have offered their help.
Revd Lesley and St Michael’s Ignite Team (Gavin Williams and Karen Burgess) are working alongside Tony Cooper, Deborah Dobbie and their helpers from the Homeless Bus as they offer a new Friday Kitchen at the drop-in alongside their Monday Kitchen at The Avenue Theatre, and Thursday Kitchen at Phoenix House.