The 999 Club in Deptford will, for the first time, open a night shelter for homeless people this summer, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000. The club’s LESLEY WALKER explains why a summer shelter is so badly needed, and how you can help.
The 20-bed facility on Deptford Broadway will be one of only three night shelters open in London over the summer (the others are run by Shelter from The Storm in Islington and The Missionaries of Charity at Elephant and Castle.)
It will cost £24,000 to operate the summer shelter – £17.15 per person per night – most of which the charity is hoping to raise through its month-long crowdfunding campaign on the site Crowdfunder: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/summershelter
Previously, the 999 Club ran winter shelters, providing beds for 10 people over a course of 10 weeks during the coldest months of the year.
However, homelessness affects people all year round and people need a safe place to sleep during the warmer months of the year as well as in the winter.
The number of people seen by outreach workers as rough sleeping in Lewisham borough has rapidly increased in recent years – up by 270% between 2011/12 and 2016/17. In this context, the capacity of the Night Shelter has doubled since January 2018.
The introduction of a summer season is part of a three year plan to extend the Night Shelter to provide year round support. By 2019 the charity aims to have the shelter operating for 40 weeks, across all four seasons.
The 999 Club experiences higher demand for its Night Shelter outside of the winter months, during which there is more emergency accommodation available in London. Our Night Shelter is currently at maximum capacity and is running a waiting list.
There is high public awareness of the need for homeless shelters during the winter, but the long summer days and warm, light and busy summer nights mean fewer places for homeless people to sleep out undisturbed, and more risk of violence and anti-social behaviour against those sleeping rough.
Dehydration and heat-related illnesses are also significant risks.
Raph, 50, who became homeless after his landlord increased his rent, says: “There’s more violence in the summer. People are drinking [alcohol] and wandering around after nights out. You might wake up and have people pissing on you.”
Gerald, 48, who became homeless after falling ill, describes some of the challenges of sleeping rough in the summer: “The light makes it more difficult to hide, so you get collared a lot more. At 4 or 5 in the morning, the sun’s up and authorities or park keepers will wake you up and say you can’t sleep here.”
What the 999 Club does
The Night Shelter runs daily for 10 weeks, with 20 places available each night. It provides a safe, warm place to sleep for those who are rough sleeping locally.
Each guest is given toiletries, bedding, ear plugs, an eye mask and access to a shower, a laundry service and computers as well as dinner and breakfast daily. They are assigned a case manager who assists with securing any missing ID, accessing or maximising benefits, receiving healthcare, getting a job and securing housing.
The charity also runs a daily drop-in at its Gateway centre on Deptford Broadway, where its staff and volunteers provide holistic support to empower homeless people to transform their lives.
999 Club chief executive Tim Fallon says: “Rough sleeping is a devastating experience – not just in winter but at any time of year.
“It is extremely dangerous and has a very negative impact on both physical and mental health & on safety and results in an average age of death of just 43 for women and 47 for men. It also has a detrimental effect on wider society leading to increased pressures and costs for statutory health, social care and criminal justice agencies.”
Names have been changed to protect identities.