Chichester homeless support network goes from strength to strength — but they still need your help
After its creation almost six years ago the Four Street Project has fed, and given vital support to, thousands of hungry and vulnerable people in the four main streets of our city.
Beginning in 2016, Donna Ockenden and her two daughters took to the streets of Chichester to provide food and bedding from their home several nights a week.
Since then the charity has spread with the help of a network of volunteers and determined support from people in the community.
Founder, trustee and volunteer Donna said: "We have had more support this year than ever before.
"We are coming to the end of our sixth year. I am just so heartened that the support for the Four Street Project appears great than it has ever been.
"We have really noticed that kindness towards others has increased over the course of the pandemic for which we are really grateful.
"As we move towards the festive season we are providing hot meals to between ten and 15 people every night. The Four Streets Project was always set up to help the homeless, the hungry and the vulnerable.
"If there are people out there in our city who are hungry they will always find a warm welcome at our supper club which runs seven nights a week from 6.30pm to 7pm."
While support is at an all-time high, the charity is always on the look out for more volunteers as it provides its services seven days a week, 365 days a year.
"We are entirely volunteer led. We have had no employees or office space to rent so that all the donations the charity receives goes directly to front-line care."
The charity is soon to embark on this year's Christmas shopping trip with winter-weight coats, sleeping bags, gloves and socks at then top of the list.
"Fundraising is really important to us and we have been hugely supported this year," Donna said.
"We have now got a permanent home at St Paul's and we have had fantastic support from Fr Simon Holland."
But what do the service users have to say?
"What they say is that they really value both the hot meals and the compassion which helps them day-to-day."
Another highlight of the year has been when the charity was recognised by Sussex Police and was handed a 'divisional commendation award'.
"It's been a good year — a good and really busy year."
Donna added: "Throughout the pandemic the Everyone In scheme, a national government led initiative to provide a roof over the heads of homeless people who otherwise would have been sleeping out on the street, was a huge success.
"We were proud to work in partnership with Chichester District Council, Stonepillow, Heart, Chichester City Council and others ensuring that no one went hungry during the pandemic and those partnerships have continued as we have moved through the various stages of the pandemic.
"Currently we are feeding in between ten and 15 people a night, they are often people who are in accommodation which may be temporary, and they come to us for companionship, kindness, practical help with food drink and clothing and we are really glad to provide that support.
"We have always said the Four Streets Project was set up to help the homeless, the hungry and the vulnerable and we remain very committed to those core values."
Supporters of the Four Streets Project include: The Sussex Community Foundation, RJS Waster Ltd, Fine and Country, local families, The Arthur Williams Charitable Trust, The Fountain pub, communities across Witterings and Birdham, the Chichester Lions Club, A2 Dominion, Mountain Warehouse, Portsmouth High School and Sussex Police.
Anyone looking to make a donation or to offer their support as a volunteer should email [email protected]
You can find out more about the charity by visiting www.fourstreetschichester.org.uk