50 years on: Why a Preston homeless charity is needed more than ever

50 years on: Why a Preston homeless charity is needed more than ever

Heres how you can help the Foxton Centre this winter

Its long tradition of commitment to the local community is being celebrated today, with a clear message that its work is needed now more than ever.

What started off as a simple goal has developed into multi-strand approach to address ever-increasing demands of a changing city, with the charity stepping in to fill gaps left by changes to care provision and the benefits system.

Jeff Marsh, chief executive of the Foxton Centre, said: People always say, Oh my God, I didnt know you did that much. This has always been an area of high deprivation. We started off as a children and young peoples centre, but over the years the clients have changed and the world has changed.

We still do the youth work, and were very proud of that, but were better known for our work with homeless people.

In fact there are three main strands of work for the 20 members of staff and 40 volunteers at the Foxton Centre – children and young people, sex workers, and the homelessness.

To celebrate the half-century milestone, the charity is calling on Prestons community to support them with a series of fund-raising events with a 50 theme, such as a 1950s day or support from a 50th birthday party.

Money raised will be channelled towards supporting the charitys Housing First scheme, which sees rough sleepers moved into permanent accommodation.

Latest figures show that in October, the Foxton Centre was used by 65 people who had been rough sleeping at some point during that month, two thirds of them men, the youngest 18 and the oldest 73.

Last year in the North West, the number of rough sleepers was up 39 per cent on the year before – something Jeff believes is the result of changes from Central Government.

Theres a clear correlation between Universal Credit coming into force and a rise in rent arrears and a rise in food bank use, he said.

Theres other benefit changes too. For instance, if youre under 35 and single, you qualify for £53 a week towards rent. But all you can get in Preston for little money is a room in a shared house for about £90 a week, and even then, theres not a huge amount of that housing around.

As it enters its 50th year, the centre is asking people to take part in a year of activities and fundraising on the theme of 50.

Jeff Marsh, CEO of the Foxton Centre, said: “You could have a tea party with a 1950s theme, or collect 50p coins, or make 50 cupcakes. Whatever takes your fancy.”

The Foxton Centre is also looking for memories and photographs from people who have used the centre over the years.

“We are best known for our work with the homeless but we still run a youth club funded by Children in Need and have a project for street sex workers.”

The Foxton Centre always welcomes donations of food for their breakfast club which provides a morning meal for rough sleepers, and non perishable food items.

They also welcome toiletries and washing powder as they provide showers and wash clothes for the homeless.

Jeff said: “In October we helped 65 people who were rough sleeping at least part of the time. We managed to get 32 of them into temporary accommodation.

“We always need donations of new underwear and socks and in the run up to Christmas it’s nice to have little gifts or selection boxes.

“We would always say to people that a bit of kindness doesn’t go amiss. If someone asks you for money, you don’t have to give it, but a kind word can make a difference.”

If possible, the centre would also really appreciate shoeboxes filled with wipes, chocolate, gloves and toiletries etc for our street outreach sessions.

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