Crawley homeless charity help families struggling with the energy crisis this winter

Crawley Open House offers help and support for families who are struggling with the rise in gas and electric prices.

The charity has seen an increase in families contacting them for help and advice with their gas and electric bills.

The energy increase has hit many families hard this winter by putting more pressure on people’s finances.

Ofgem has announced today (Thursday February 3) that: “Millions of people will pay an extra £693 a year on their energy bills from April, a rise of 54%”

Crawley Open House gives hope to the homeless

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With this news, people could find themselves with more money problems and decide between eating or heating.

Crawley Open House doesn’t just serve the local homeless community, but has helped many people who are struggling with financial difficulties during the pandemic.

Their advice team works to help people with their mortgage repayments, debt and monthly bills by providing debt management advice and offering budgeting skills.

Crawley Open House has been helping the homeless since 1994

The team also gives advice on welfare benefits, helping people identify which is the most appropriate and helping people through the application process.

We visited Crawley Open House today (February 3) to see how they can help people who are facing financial hardship this winter.

Ian Wilkins, fundraising and relationship manager for Crawley Open House said: “We’ve got no magic to answer it.

One of the bedrooms in the hostel

“Crawley Open House has got some experienced staff here, who can help people with paying their bills.

“It’s not good out there and we expect things to get even worse for people.

“Our advice team here can certainly help people access whatever help there is out there.

Residents have access to storage facilities

“There are ways people can access help out there. I can’t pretend it’s easy but we will do our best to help people.”

The Crawley Open House has served the local homeless community for more than 20 years by providing services such as a hostel, day centre, advice, health, outreach and resettlement.

The charity was originally set up in Spencer’s Road, near Asda and is now located behind Three Bridges train station.

It is run by a host of staff and volunteers, who ensure that the homeless community are fed, showered, clothed and have somewhere warm to stay. They also have a number of service users, who use the facilities throughout the day.

The long term goal of the charity is to resettle people into sheltered accommodation, help them apply for the right benefits and to help them into employment.

The facility has a number of private rooms and properties that are used to house their residents. They even get a few dogs come and stay with their owners as well.

The facility is often used by service users during the day

Outreach is a service that the charity provides, which offers assistance to people who find themselves living rough on the streets, and allows members of the public to notify them when they see someone in need.

The pandemic has had an impact on the charity, but the constant generosity of the people in Crawley have helped keep Crawley Open House running.

Mr Wilkins said: “The building behind me is home to 32 people who wouldn’t otherwise have a home.

“24 people and dogs in our high support hostel and eight in rooms we’ve built above the hostel. Our charity has been going since 1994.

“We provide accomodation, food and support for people going through a difficult chapter in their lives.

“We do our best to help people who are experiencing homelessness locally.

“We were busy before Covid and busy during- so it's hard to tell if Covid has had an impact. Been busy for the past 27 years.

“Covid has affected people’s ability to pay their mortgages, rent. We are dealing with a lot of people who are finding life tough at the moment.

“We do a Big Sleep Out every year which gives people a tiny glimpse into the life of someone who has to sleep rough. On the night we encourage people to sleep in Queen’s Square, or at home and get sponsored for it.

“Thank you to all the people who are already involved. If you stand outside long enough you will see people bring supplies.

“We love donations of things. New socks and underwear. We are short of food, so long live milk, canned meats and fish and toiletries.

“Fundraising is always good. We are doing well financially, but we aren’t complacent.”

If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, visit Crawley Open House website at: https://www.crawleyopenhouse.co.uk/

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