Due to increases in demand, we are putting new strategies in place to ensure the vulnerable people who access the services are protected and can continue to safely receive our support. 

For the past 10 years, we have been open each weekday, providing a safe haven for the town’s homeless and vulnerable. 

Services are always free of charge, and include cooked food, laundry and washing facilities in a safe and welcoming environment, as well as offering a host of tailored support.

While we have sought to provide a very open and accessible service with limited resources and facilities, the changing dynamic within society and in particular around homelessness has presented us with many challenges; we have seen in particular over the last few years an increase in drug use and criminal activity, with many of the town’s vulnerable homeless being targeted by a criminal element within the community.

Responding to these changes, we are introducing a new structure to ensure the most vulnerable among us are protected and supported safely.

From next month, (August 2018), we will continue to operate each weekday, with rough sleepers having open access for breakfast each morning. Throughout the day, they will have the opportunity to participate in planned activities such as art and music, as well as develop life skills to access work or volunteering.

After breakfast, those homeless and vulnerable clients will be able to access additional support and help on an individual basis to take positive steps to improving their circumstances. 

We are delighted to have already seen a number of previously non-engaged clients taking part in various group activities, and we are looking forward to developing this service further. 

Engaging in activities is a really big step for vulnerable clients who may not yet be ready to face their bigger life challenges.

The changes to our services mean we will only be offering lunch for clients who are actively engaging with us, even in small ways; the lunchtime drop-in has sadly provided the biggest opportunity for certain high-risk individuals to abuse the service at the expense of our vulnerable clients.

Our Outreach service will continue to operate in partnership with Police, Shropshire Council and other partner-organisations to support and encourage those vulnerable rough sleepers to access the help available to them.

There is a perception the increase in anti-social behaviour on the streets is attributed to many of the clients at The Ark but this is simply not the case; in fact, many of the people we support need protection from criminal elements in our town.

We will never charge anyone to access our services.

The operational changes are recognising and responding to the changing face of our clientele and we are supporting our staff to ensure all are safe.

As a charity, we are extremely grateful to the community for continuing to support our shop and for donations; without these we couldn’t operate at all. 

We are actively seeking new premises where we can continue to build on our plans to do more to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

If you are concerned someone is sleeping rough on the street, contact Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 or online at www.streetlink.org.uk.

 

Streetlink will pass us details of all referrals so that we can locate and contact the individual and offer any support necessary.