Corby hostel project giving back 'hope, dignity, and respect' to the homeless

The shelter finally opened after initial problems recruiting volunteers to staff the facility

By Alison Bagley
Saturday, 15th February 2020, 6:00 am

A hostel serving Corby's homeless community has been hailed a success by managers as the home has been fully occupied since the opening evening on January 22.

Corby Homeless Project is run by East Northants Community Services (ENCS) who were contracted by Corby council to run the two-step shelter and supported housing complex on the Kingswood estate.

The newly renovated Dorking Walk home replaced the winter night shelter that was operated by Corby Nightlight in the town's old police station throughout last winter.

Debi Delgarno services manager for Corby Homeless Project outside the hostel in Dorking Walk

Jo Burns, ENCS operations manager, said: "It's going well and so far we haven't had any major incidents. The residents have settled in and a couple have moved on to permanent accommodation.

"As a charity we empower people to make positive life choices and to give them hope, dignity, respect and support."

The hostel has accommodation for 16 people providing shared bedrooms, a living room, a small kitchen, two shower rooms, two separate bathrooms and a toilet in the converted terraced house.

Currently, the home is unable to open the full 24-hours-a-day closing between 12 noon and 6pm.

The house has a cosy living room for the residents

Debi Delgarno, services manager for Dorking House, said: "It's gone incredibly well. I volunteered for the previous shelter and we can see the difference.

"Many of our residents were and are working zero hours contracts, work for the minimum wage and live in a shared room in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) - many illegal.

"They lose their job and can't pay the rent and get evicted - it's a typical story."

Many of the homeless people had made a makeshift tent encampment in Corby's extensive urban woodland.

Alex Grecin - former sailor

Corby Council have now cleared the tents from the woods.

Alex Grecin had been living in a tent with a friend on land near Corby Morrisons.

Originally from Lithuania, the 63-year-old marine engineer and navigator came to Corby after spending a career on the sea.

During his many trips to English ports he fell in love with the country and wanted to start a new life.

The living room is kept tidy with help from the volunteers

He said: "I love Corby. I want to spend the rest of my life here. When I first came I lived in a flat and I worked in a factory. I had a job with an agency and I paid my rent. I paid £85 a week I was living in illegal houses.

"I paid in advance and it was fine. Then over Christmas there was no work. My landlord wanted my rent and I couldn't pay. In January, I went to live in a tent in the woods."

Mr Grecin walks for 45 minutes each way to his new job and spends the hours when the hostel is closed in Corby library.

He added: "I love living here. I feel safe. I want to continue my work. I still love Corby and I would like to get my own flat."

All residents have been vetted by Corby council and agree to a house code of conduct before moving in including agreeing to bag and pocket searches for drugs, alcohol and bladed instruments.

To enable the service to open, ENCS has temporarily funded two paid night cover staff work alongside the 35 volunteers who help with jobs around the hostel, on a rota basis.

Dorking House - Dorking Walk

The charity is aiming to recruit more volunteers to cover the night cover roles to allow paid staff to concentrate on helping the homeless people with day-to-day life skills.

Ms Delgarno said: "We would like to thank the people of Corby. In Corby we ask and they give.

"If people would like to help we always need donations of basic foods - tea, coffee, sugar and lots and lots of milk.

"We also need cleaning products, washing powders, fabric conditioners and wipes."

Volunteers are still required by ENCS to cover the night shifts.

Jo Burns said: “We always need volunteers and especially for the night shifts. Our end goal is to open 24-hours-a-day.

"Volunteers' jobs include cleaning, washing and helping with admin work.

"We are looking for volunteers who are passionate about helping those in need in the community. We especially need people to cover an evening shift from 6pm to 10pm and the sleeping night shifts from 10pm to 9am.

"If you have a couple of evenings or nights to spare a few times a month, or even once a week, visit the website, where you can find more details on how to apply."

To help the Corby Homeless Project email [email protected] or go to the group's Amazon wish list.

The project will host an open day on Wednesday, February 26 from 1pm to 4pm for neighbours and members of the public to tour the facility.

Residents share rooms