The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, will be visiting the new Tavistock House Cold Weather Shelter in central London on Wednesday 15 December. Run by English Churches Housing Group (ECHG), the 60-bed Shelter is working towards the Government's Rough Sleepers' Unit target of reducing by two-thirds the number of street homeless by 2002.
Dr Carey, who is Patron of ECHG, will be spending time with the residents before formerly opening the Shelter when he turns on the Christmas tree lights. Of his visit he said: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to demonstrate my support for the work being done on behalf of the Churches for the marginalised and the homeless. It is right that they should be in our hearts and our minds at this season. But our concern on their behalf is not just for here and now. That is why I am pleased to commend the efforts being made to give those in need not just temporary shelter but a surer footing for the future."
Following the recent debate over provision for homeless people, ECHG are confident that the new Tavistock House Cold Weather Shelter will help the homeless residents by not only providing food, clothing, toiletries and temporary accommodation, but more importantly, vital assistance in sourcing supported or mainstream housing.
Robert Black, Head of ECHG London Supported Housing says, "The aim of the scheme is so much more than just providing a shelter for people to 'pop in to keep warm for the winter.' The objective is to support homeless peoples' needs and move them on to appropriate housing and accommodation. For many residents this means moving on to one of ECHG's fully supported schemes, such as King George's or Queen Mary's hostel in Westminster, or Livingstone House in Brent. The team at the Cold Weather Shelter consists of 30 dedicated staff members who are totally committed to making the difference for people in need."
ECHG, in partnership with Church Housing Trust, has been a ground-breaker in the field of homelessness, focusing not just on the difficulties of finding accommodation, but also the associated problems of alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness. ECHG, who are this year marking their 75th anniversary, has a long history of working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies to find more lasting solutions and are committed to building a new future for those most in need.