Homeless centre offers more than a place to stay

Eat to the Beat at Fox St Community Centre, Preston as part of Lancashire Food Week

Eat to the Beat at Fox St Community Centre, Preston as part of Lancashire Food Week

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A Preston homeless centre threw open its doors to shed light on its work.

A PRESTON homeless centre threw open its doors to shed light on its work.

Sparky trying a Preston Handwarmer

Sparky trying a Preston Handwarmer

The Fox Street Community held an Eat to the Beat event, to show they do more than just put a roof over people’s heads.

Two of the young men making the most of the food on offer reflect on the work that has been done to get them into secure accommodation, as well as the actions that have led to them needing help.

Sam, 21, said: “I didn’t get on with my parents and so rather than have further problems I decided to leave.

“I initially went to the Foxton Centre and got referred to Fox Street, where I currently have a room.

Chef Steve Morley

Chef Steve Morley

“I do have skills to get a job, as I am a mechanic by trade and I am also a painter and decorator, but it is hard to get a decent place to live, so Fox Street has given me a roof over my head.

“The good thing it has going for it is the food.

“Chef Steve Morley joined a few months ago and improved the centre’s hygiene rating from four stars to five.

“The food is brilliant.

“It has been great having food in my stomach.

“It has also helped me put weight on as I lost a lot when I became homeless.”

He added he was pleased Fox Street Community was carrying out fundraising drives, as it needs to modernise its facilities.

He said: “We accept Fox Street is doing a lot to help us move on into our own accommodation, but the condition of living needs to be brought up.

“It needs a lick of paint as not many people like staying here.

“Service users pay some money using housing benefits to stay here, which goes some way, but the centre needs more support and donations to keep it going.”

Jon, 36, has been living on and off the streets since he was 17. He was brought up in care and turned to drugs as an adult.

He said; “I love coming here for the food.

“A lot of people may give a homeless person on the street money, but we appreciate food more.

“There is the temptation to spend it on drugs.

“I have spent years as an addict and have only just got clean from heroin and crack.

“I owe that to my dog, as I love her, I noticed a burn mark on her which must have happened while I was off my head. I didn’t want that to happen again.

“Fox Street Community has given me lots of support.

“They got me a flat, but unfortunately I messed that up as I got in with a bad crowd.

“Now I have my dog, Fox Street is unable to help me, and I won’t give her up.

“I have to sort myself out. This is something I want to.”

The Eat to the Beat drive was the first in a series of fund-raising events Fox Street Community has coming up to enable its services to continue.

Future activities include Run Preston on September 25; a comedy night at 53 Degrees on October 27 and a spring ball.

Kevin Mitchell, operations manager, said: “We want to raise awareness of what we do and the fact we need support.

“We are listening to what the service users are saying.

“We have room for 20 men, so when we have a lot of people coming through, the place gets tired.

“As with a lot of places, funding will stop in March and we need to be creative going forward.

“Our main focus will be housing and accommodation through the A Place to Live scheme.

“We will be working with landlords and property

managers to help people love on into independent accommodation.

“This will be for people who are ordinarily unable to get support through housing associations and those who are struggling with the private rented sector.”

Stephen Hetherington, chief operating officer, said: “The Eat to the Beat event has been great in showing what our chef Steve Morley does.

“It is more than feeding the guys – it is giving them cooking skills and support and allowing them to live independently.

“We have lots of exciting plans over the next three years to improve things and house the homeless.”