But this one evening was different. I went in as an observer - for a time to sit back and see the work of the volunteers and the impact the place has on the ARK ‘family’ as they are known.
I had chance to see the unfolding story of one single mother, who had just been moved into bed and breakfast accommodation because her housing association managed home had become unsafe for her two young children.
This mum’s story is so often the case with vulnerable people. So low is the social housing stock, that Horsham District Council has to pay out for hotel rooms for emergency accommodation.
The children were playing, almost obliviously around us as she was consoled by ARK family members - volunteers and leaders together.
The charity’s founder, Lisa, had spent the afternoon on the phone to police officers, social workers and housing officers trying to remedy the situation before home time.
Meanwhile mum was feeling helpless knowing there was going to be at least a few more nights staying at a hotel. It’s a safe place, and one many of us can enjoy as a luxury, but it is anything but that when you have nothing else.
ARK is the closest place to home they can enjoy.
You always feel the family atmosphere as soon as you walk through the door. Imagine any busy family household, multiply it and you have some idea of what it’s like.
These are people who have deep scars, buried under complex coping mechanisms such as drug and alcohol addiction.
But by stepping through the door of ARK, they are ready to start to face their problems. It may take six weeks or six years, but ARK is there to hold their hand through getting off the heroin, finding a job and keeping it and holding down a tenancy on a house.
The ARK family have so much respect for the leaders that they play by the rules and reap the rewards.
There are people with healed scars today because they have been accepted for being who they are at ARK.
I just pray those scars stay healed as the charity opens its doors for the last time on Thursday September 3.
I appeal to any businesses or individuals to pick up the phone or email and sponsor ARK with finance or a property it can work from. Call Lisa on 07825 284054 or email [email protected]
Related stories: Police support County Times’ campaign for Ark Horsham’s new home
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