Elderly residents living in sheltered accommodation next door to the proposed site of a Corby homeless shelter say they are scared of what it might mean for their community.
People living in Wollongong House in Cannock Road, Corby, say that they know there is a desperate need for the shelter in the town - but the middle of a residential area isn’t the right place.
Charitable organisation Nightlight has been searching for a permanent home for a shelter since they moved out of St Peter and St Andrew’s Church in Beanfield Avenue earlier this year.
The former gym in Cannock Road has been earmarked by them as the only available, suitable and affordable site in the town.
But they are facing furious opposition from local people who are concerned about the impact on their lives.
Thirty-one elderly people live in Wollongong House, and there are 33 sheltered accommodation units adjacent to it. There is also an elderly residential home nearby and two schools within a few hundred metres.
One resident, Joe, said: “This is a lovely community. We have absolutely nothing against homeless people or the idea of a shelter and we all want a nice place in Corby for them.
“But nobody can anticipate what’s going to happen with the people coming to stay there who may have drug or medical issues.
“It’s very dark around here at night and we’re scared that when we’re going out or to the bus stop, there will be people hanging around
“Once they’ve arrived here from the town centre, if there’s no room at the shelter then they’re going to be sleeping in the gardens here or the sheds. There’s nowhere else for them to go.”
The oldest resident there, Betty, who is 94, said: “This used to be a lively place but we’re all getting older now and it’s more peaceful. It’s not a suitable place for a shelter.”
Residents say they have become used to looking after one another and can pop in and out of each others’ rooms. They say that they are worried they will have to lock all their internal doors if the shelter gets the go-ahead and that they would feel like prisoners in their own homes.
One resident, Iris, said: “A lot of people have the feeling that old people shouldn’t go out, that we’ll be fine here because we’re inside. But we want to go out and feel safe doing so.”
Another resident, William, said: “It’s just not the right area. It’s going to put the fear of God into people.”
Nightlight volunteers want to open the24-hour, 36-bed shelter to help ease Corby’s growing homelessness problems.
During the most recent winter, they helped provide a 2963 beds for 101 different homeless people in Corby.
They say that the shelter will be monitored around the clock by CCTV, that the clients will have to adhere to strict rules and will not be allowed to take drugs or hang around in the vicinity of the building.
They also say that they have ruled out other buildings in Corby that are not suitable for the project.
The planning application will be decided by Corby councillors at a special meeting on June 6.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting at the Corby Cube at 7pm although anyone wishing to speak should contact the council in advance for details.