BASED in the heart of Harlow, Wych Elm, Streets2Homes provides essential care and hope for those in need of local homes and who are also precariously housed.
The site is a bustling and welcoming hub of humanity. It is reminiscent of a large family where clients can come and find a respite from isolation and insecurity. Not only does it provide fundamentals such as food and clothing, but offers physiotherapist and therapeutic services, with art classes and access to computers.
The charity’s day centre is open from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon, Monday – Friday with a breakfast of cereal and toast available for the street homeless at 8.45 am, and a hot meal at lunchtime made by the volunteers.
New clients are assessed within 24 hours and can have a shower and receive essential items like sleeping bags and tents.
S2H is a small charity with three full time members of staff and an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers. Wayne Hood, 44, an Outreach Project Worker with the centre explained: ‘I really love my job, the volunteers here do amazing work it couldn’t run without them, I feel I am now giving back,’ he said.
While Welfare Officer Helen Baker and Housing Project Co-ordinator Keiren Mitchell, supports clients with a range of issues from sorting out universal credit to securing housing deposits and finding a job.
The charity has great support from the Harlow community. Astro Lighting and Bunnings Warehouse regularly organise fund raising events, with Astro dropping in on a Friday with Pizzas for all. Harlow College students also volunteer at the centre.
Streets2Homes Chief Executive Officer, Kerrie Eastman, 44, has been with the organisation for seven years, she told me: ‘There are a lack of night shelters and hostels in Harlow, but that is not what we are interested in as these can just act as a sticking plaster.
‘We want to be able to help people back into accommodation and become self-sufficient. We aim for clients to take responsibility for themselves and their futures,’ she explained.
For more information please contact Streets2Homes on 01279 430011, or go to www.streets2homes.org