Don’t leave Sunderland’s homeless out in the cold

Streetcare volunteers preparing donated food parcels for needy clients at st Gabriel's Church, Sunderland
Streetcare volunteers preparing donated food parcels for needy clients at st Gabriel's Church, Sunderland
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CHARITY chiefs want to highlight the plight of the homeless across Wearside this winter.

Dick Donaldson, a founding member of Streetcare, based at St Gabriel’s Church, Kayll Road, Sunderland, said there are more and more people “falling foul of society.”.

Mr Donaldson, 66, said: “They might not be on the streets, they could be sleeping on someone’s sofa, but there are more and more cases of people losing jobs, and ending up getting dumped on homeless charities.

“I’ve seen people like dentists and undertakers who have fallen foul of society.

“There is a real need now, more so since the recession.”

Mr Donaldson, who has worked with the charity for 21 years, said: “The council might say there isn’t a real problem with homelessness in the city, people might not be on the streets, but they could be in bedsits or hostels.”

Streetcare was launched in 1991 by Ian and Maureen Brown and relies on volunteers to keep it running.

Sunderland City Council say there were 64 people classed as homeless in September this year – down from 82 the year before.

Bosses also said they prevented 815 cases of homelessness in the 12 months to September 2012 – up from 765 the previous year.

Mr Donaldson, whose wife Linda also works with Streetcare, added: “There are three of us at the centre every week and it gets a bit binding.

“If people can come and just sit and chat, or come and help fill out forms with people, or even serve a meal it helps.

“Once you get talking to people they will open up to you eventually.

“Or if people can drop a food parcel at St Gabriel’s.”

Beverley Walton, 47, who is chairman of the charity, said: “I’ve been with the organisation for three or four years.

“I didn’t realise how much work Streetcare do, because they’re not that well known.

“I was shocked by the need there is in the city when I started.

“Some people aren’t homeless in terms of they haven’t got a home, but they are living in complete poverty.”

Mrs Walton, who works for Wise Academies, at Hasting Hill Academy, said: “One of the good things is that in my school I get a lot of help.

“They give food parcels. It goes a long way to helping people in Sunderland.

“I would urge those people who have some time to come along, see what we do, and meet us.

“To those organisations who can help with food we would be really, really grateful.”

To contact Streetcare, call: 07854 109 229

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

COUNCIL bosses said today they will not rest on their laurels in the fight help the homeless.

Councillor Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, said: “Sunderland City Council has targeted the prevention of homelessness as a real priority over recent years and as the figures show this has resulted in some real successes.

“By attempting to identify cases at the earliest possible opportunity the number of people who have had to be accepted as homeless is at an all time low.

“This also includes a strong partnership approach with other local authorities in the region.

“However, it is important that we don’t rest on our laurels.

With the current economic challenges that everyone is faced with it is still imperative that if anyone feels that they are at risk of becoming homeless, that they contact the council as soon as they can on 0800 731 2963.

Of the drop in homeless cases, Coun Miller added: This is still a really positive performance that is achieved by working very closely with all partners in the city.”