THE HOMELESS drop-in centre in Stratford will not be re-opened anytime soon say council chiefs.
Stratford District Council confirmed ‘immediately re-opening’ the Link Project in Waterside would not be possible following a safety review. It has been closed for nearly two months after an unspecified incident prompted safety concerns.
The council has now launched a second review to consider a long-term solution for centre users and rough sleepers, including alternative premises for the Link.
A council spokesman said: “While this report has made it clear that an immediate reopening is not possible, the council remains committed to retaining and delivering an effective provision that builds on the successes of the Link Project and achieves the same – if not better – outcomes for service users.
“A further review into how we can do this has now begun, with the council’s homelessness prevention and rough sleeper engagement teams working with senior management to find a long-term solution.
“In the meantime, the council’s statutory responsibilities in terms of assisting the homeless are unchanged, and we continue to consider how we can best work with partnership organisations to meet the needs of Link Project users, while working with potential alternative venues from which to offer support.”
But homelessness campaigner Jackie Lines accused the council of dragging its heels.
She said: “The homeless and vulnerable are without a daily venue that offers support, social interaction and mental stability.
“The lack of empathy, comprehension and motivation is appalling. This is prevarication. I understand health and safety is vital but the Link was only ever meant to be temporary and the delay has now resulted in total collapse.”
The council stepped in to run the centre in 2016 after the former provider Bromford Support stopped operating in Warwickshire.
It provides help, support and advice to rough sleepers, those in temporary housing and the socially isolated, as well as providing showers, washing facilities, food and clothing.
The council is keen to hear ideas for alternative venues for the Link. Email [email protected] with suggestions.
* The United Reformed Church runs a soup kitchen between noon and 2pm on a Saturday and Sunday, and St Gregory’s Church also provides food on Tuesdays from 6pm to 7.30pm.
Help and advice for rough sleepers is also available from rough sleeper officer Ann Johnson on 07929 369273.
Visit www.stratford.gov.uk/homes-properties/the-link-project.cfm for details of further support available.