Turning Tides’ community hubs are often the start of someone’s journey out of homelessness and volunteers at the charity fear that without the vital funds needed to keep its community hubs alive, people in need will have nowhere to turn to get urgent help.
The charity’s chief executive, John Holmstrom, said: “The future of our community hubs and outreach teams must be secured if we are to continue our life-saving work.
"People come to our hubs because they have no other place to turn. Some are extremely vulnerable and experiencing severe mental ill health and physical illness from having to live on the streets or fleeing violence. There is no doubt in my mind – if the hubs are unable to remain open, people’s lives will be at risk.”
The community hubs provide access to food, showers, washing machines, medical care, counselling, and vital help with housing and employment.
Franc Bryson, 63, became homeless in 2017. After coming to Worthing the following year, he slowly started visiting a Turning Tides’ hub.
Franc slept in a tent until he was told to move on. He spoke to Claire Halford-Dale, the hub manager, and she gave him housing advice.
Franc said: “I got offered temporary accommodation from the council and a week later, I got a call from Turning Tides informing me that they were moving me one of the charity’s less demanding units in Manor Road in Worthing, as I didn’t have any substance or alcohol abuse.
"I was there for around nine months and then was placed in accommodation in Victoria Road, and then Covid hit. Luckily, Turning Tides put out feelers for empty flats in Worthing and Worthing Homes very kindly donated some, and I got one.
"I was due to leave the flat in October this year but they have successfully renegotiated and now I have a permanent lease for that flat and this is all because I stepped foot into Turning Tides.”
Franc sai if it wasn’t for Turning Tides, he would be in ‘absolute dire straights’. He added: “If you were to take away the security of having a roof over my head and if I was still living on the street, I don’t think I would’ve survived it, certainly my mental health wouldn’t have held up.
"These hubs are an essential safety net and they save lives. Homeless people have a life expectancy of 30 years less than the average person. If there was no Turning Tides, it would be disastrous.”
Claire said: “The one thing they always receive here is a warm and caring smile. To know they don’t have to go through the trauma of homelessness alone – that the hubs are always here to help. These are places where people who have nothing at all can finally get the help they need and we need them more than ever.”
Ruth Poyner, head of fundraising and communications, said that just £50 funds a half day of support. She added: “We are asking for help to ensure we can stay open so no one faces the trauma of homelessness alone.”