As an issue homelessness has become so politicised it’s hard to trust what is reported. Luckily we were able to hear from two members of our own club who have direct experience of the problem in the local area.
Rotarian Jim Needley volunteers at the East Coast Homeless Outreach (ECHO) street kitchen underneath the fly over at the end of Freeman Street in Grimsby. ECHO receives food donations from local supermarkets and small businesses and typically serves 30 to 40 people each Saturday night. Surplus food is then distributed to other organisations that help the homeless such as The Salvation Army.
Our Club President Nigel Collins, through Churches Together and Hope House, rehoused 7 people last winter. Hope House never set out to help homeless people until they began to turn up at the ‘Open House’ sessions. Nigel found that, by working with local landlords, he could help rehouse people. This then grew in 2017 with Hope House managing a property that could accommodate up to 4 people and permission has now been granted to convert the upper floors of Hope House into a hostel.
What we learned from both speakers is that the problem of homelessness is very complicated with a wide range of causes requiring a bespoke solution for virtually every case. Some people need only minor assistance in order to return to their accommodation or find a new place and Nigel had some heart warming examples along those lines. Others have problems including addictions or mental health issues that make them very challenging to work with and hard to help.
Whatever your views on homelessness, we should all be thankful that Rotarians like Jim and Nigel are there to help people who are so in need.
Note The Rotary Club of Alford and Mablethorpe have recently supported both ECHO and Hope House.