Link Project takes over homeless drop-in sessions

Sleeping rough in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson

Stratford Link Project has begun its new regular drop-in sessions at the United Reformed Church to provide vital support to the homeless and vulnerable.

The two-weekly sessions are being provided on a temporary basis following the closure of the Link Project’s permanent drop-in centre on Waterside in February, following concerns about safety.

It is not known if or when that facility will re-open and in the months since a number of people have contacted the Herald to express concerns about a lack of support being provided for the homeless.

A weekly volunteer-run session at the United Reformed Church has now been taken over by the Link Project, which has also added an extra weekly session to provide extra help.

The first of these Link-run sessions took place on 11th June with nine people attending, though that number rose to 18 by the fourth session on 20th June.

The sessions run on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week from 12.30pm until 2.30pm providing help, advice and support to rough sleepers, former rough sleepers, and vulnerable individuals who require assistance from a range of organisations.

Food and drink is available at the drop in sessions, which provide an opportunity for social interaction, along with access to advice and support from a number of agencies.

Cllr Jo Barker, People Portfolio, said: “The reopening of the Link is a crucial service, it forms only one part of our toolkit to support those who sleep rough. These are vulnerable people and although the Link looks a little different, it is very much the same multi-agency service provision.

“The review of the Link Project has enabled the District Council to look again at the demands and needs of this type of drop-in service and put suitable policies and procedures in place. By pooling resources and working with partners and volunteers we are able to ensure there is effective support in place for vulnerable people to enable them to have control over their lives, be safe and protected from harm.

“Unfortunately the facilities at the URC are only available to us until the end of July and we are currently looking at other options, before returning to the URC after the school holidays in September.”