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A bloody disgrace – the shocking ignorance that is keeping a Crawley homeless charity…homeless

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Photo: Joe Dines

April 2017, several good hearted individuals get together on the High Street and setup Giving Back Crawley. Their objective? To help those who are homeless, in temporary accommodation or who are on low income and cannot afford to feed themselves and their children.

“Something is bloody wrong with all of this.”

Fast forward a year, the charity has become so popular (a sign of just how bad it has become in the town) that they are now in an indoor location and able to provide additional items such as clothes, toiletries and shoes.

They provide snack bags and in emergency situations even sleeping bags but most and foremost they provide an environment where there is no-one judging you, just someone who actually cares.


Photo: Joe Dines

Fast forward another year, back on the streets. Without a location the charity is back to tables and shelter under a small covering outside an estate agents who try their best to help where they can. Balancing food on your lap whilst squatting on the floor is not what these people need. They need help, security and warmth.

But life like this does little to help when surrounded by drunks fresh out of the pubs and imbeciles who think it is funny to abuse someone suffering.

The why’s of the charities homelessness are not relevant, what is important is why after weeks of being back on the streets they have been unable to find a new home despite the hundreds if not thousands of hours they have tried.

Peoples instant reaction is to blame the council, why are they not helping? But when a council has nothing available, and you must remember there is only a small area within the town centre that is suitable, then what are they to do?

As anyone who wanders through the town will know there is a plethora of empty shops, offices, any one of which would be more than suitable and yet none of these landlords seem willing to help, or do they?

With agents the gatekeepers to landlords you have to ask yourself whether the landlords of these empty properties are even aware of the need for a charity to utilise their space – and this is the clincher – they are not asking for the space for free. They WILL pay!

So let’s be clear about the situation. Here is a charity looking to rent a space in the town, a place that has more than enough spaces for them, and no-one is helping. Is this ignorance of the highest order?

Photo: Joe Dines

Now there are factors you have to understand. Agents have to make money like all businesses and the only way they do that is on commission or fees once they have successfully let out a property.

The moment the word ‘charity’ and ‘homeless’ is heard you can almost imagine the rolling eyes and closure of their hearing. Yet they are still happy to allow the property for which they represent to remain empty, derelict, a money pit.

Then there is the worry about the stigma that letting out a property to a homeless charity may give to the neighbouring properties they manage. Would they be able to rent them out or would it turn people off?

“they are not asking for the space for free. They WILL pay!”

Be under no illusion, there is a problem in the town as highlighted recently with news of budgets cuts that would affect other homeless charities such as Open House.

But here is one that is not asking for money from any council, that is looking to help out and without whom would not be able to prevent situations arising that would costs thousands more from the tax payer than any rental agreement would demand. Think of the costs to the NHS and Police if someone gets hypothermia from sleeping in damp clothes in a car park in sub zero conditions as one example.

Something is bloody wrong with all of this.

In an age where image is everything here is an opportunity that is very rare. An opportunity for some bright spark to capture and to run with. An opportunity where they can help and in return get awareness, branding even advertising that any paid campaign could never get because it will capture the hearts of people, see that their is hope and a genuine care for the community.

So if you are an agent or a landlord and have something available in Crawley town centre or not too far from it then why sit around waiting and actually fill the space now, earn money from it and more importantly do what the charity is entitled, Give Back to the town.

You can find more information about Giving Back Crawley at their facebook page here.

Charity

Crawley’s first ever ‘Free Supermarket’ opens in Three Bridges to support community

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On Sunday (8th November} Crawley’s first ever ‘free supermarket’ opened its doors to the local community.

The Free Shop Crawley is a store run by volunteers with the sole purpose of providing locals with food, toiletries and baby essentials without any associated cost.

Inspired by Marcus Rashford and his campaign to have school meals funded year-round, the stores inception came about when four local women shared a common desire to create a safe place for people in need to come and receive help without fear or shame.

Laura-Jane Wainwright, one of the founders of Free Shop Crawley said:

“Having used food banks in the past, I know first-hand how degrading it can feel.  We wanted to create a dignified space where anyone in need could come and access essentials in a friendly and inclusive environment. The thought of children going to bed hungry and adults losing sleep over financial anxiety broke our hearts and we knew we had to use our skills and resources to help”

Shoppers are encouraged to take up to 10 items from the shop each visit giving them a full basket of daily necessities. Anyone is eligible to visit the store and although there is a ticketing system in place the team are ready to welcome anyone who is in need.

The shop offers a fresh produce section, toiletries and sanitary care, tinned and dried goods, nappies and formula and even children’s clothing and toys.

In week one alone, over 100 people have been fed by the shops offering, showing just how big a need there is for support in not just this area but country wide.

Local businesses have been quick to support the store donating essentials by the van load, even down to kitting out the shop with shelving, tables and hanging racks. Companies including Asda, Co-op and Tilgate Bakery have committed to donate to the store each week.

Free Shop Crawley can be found at CJ’s café, Kingsland Court, Three Bridges, Crawley, RH10 1HL, on Sundays from 2pm-4pm.

Anyone wishing to donate or find out more can visit the Free Shop Crawley Facebook page www.facebook.com/freeshopcrawley  or contact the team direct on freeshopcrawley@gmail.com

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