Chichester churches agree to launch new homeless shelter

Jack Jones, Tom Moore and canon Mark Payne outside St Pancras Church in Chichester. Picture by Steve Robards SR1729525
Jack Jones, Tom Moore and canon Mark Payne outside St Pancras Church in Chichester. Picture by Steve Robards SR1729525

A church-run shelter for the homeless is coming to Chichester.

The city’s church leaders have been meeting regularly to find their own solution to the growing issue, and last week formally agreed to the project.

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan on her visit to the Monday breakfast club at St Pancras Church

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan on her visit to the Monday breakfast club at St Pancras Church

Each church has pledged funds, a building has been found and an experienced project manager has been seconded to draw up and action timeline, train volunteers and work with the council and other bodies.

However, the race is now on to see if the overnight accomodation will be ready in time for this winter.

Mark Payne, canon of St Pancras Church, said: “We are going for it. At the moment we’re not sure if we will be able to launch it this winter.

“There’s lots to do, we have a building but we need planning permission and to get it ready and volunteers need to be trained.

“If we can’t get it done in time it will be next year, and in the meantime we will be beefing up the provision the Four Streets Project offers.

“But we are all committed to making this happen.”

It looks likely the project will be delayed until next year, with church members keen to set it up properly than rush into something which might not work.

Tom Moore, 38, was homeless for two years and now, as a volunteer at St Pancras Church, is one of the drivers behind the night shelter.

Having regular contact with those currently on the streets, Tom is confident the homeless community will take ownership and make it a success, and wants it to be a stepping stone for permanent housing and for people to find work.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing that the churches are listening to their hearts, it’s something for the people run by the people.

“I know it’s something the homeless community want, they don’t want to be in the situation they’re in.

“It works well in Brighton, there’s enough support from people like the Four Streets Project, and our MP is really on board with it.”

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan made a surprise visit to the Monday breakfast club at St Pancras Church last month, and said: “I fully support the efforts of the churches in Chichester in tackling homelessness.

“For some people life can spiral out of control and they find themselves on the streets. I am amazed by the church groups and charities that are working to help support those who find themselves in a difficult and scary situation.

“Many churches in Chichester do a lot already with the Free Church running a food bank where I will be visiting and lending a hand later this week, and St Pancras church where they hold breakfast weekly and provide a wide range of other support.

“It is great that the church community is coming together to provide a hostel giving a safe space for the homeless in Chichester.

“Very often just a little help can get people’s lives back on track.”