How you can help Corby's homeless this Christmas

With Christmas just a week away, the rough sleepers and sofa surfers of Corby are still waiting for a new permanent night shelter to open.

By Alison Bagley
Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 12:18 pm

East Northants Community Services (ENCS), which will run the new shelter in Dorking Walk on behalf of Corby Council, is desperate to fill the 40 volunteer roles to enable the service to open safely.

Martin Sawers, Corby Council's only outreach worker helping rough sleepers, works with homeless people who live outdoors in tents, sheds, caravans and even a skip - all waiting for the new shelter.

He said: "The majority who are sleeping rough don't want to be there. Ideally it would be eradicated but some don't want to keep to rules and regulations.

Andrzey decorates the Christmas tree in the tent used as a communal living area

"One chap was living in a skip but he was living near local businesses so they have given him an old caravan. Another guy lived in a 'bash' - a shelter made of cardboard.

"His bash was trashed by kids in the woods and they threw his things in the river. Where there's a need we do what we can to help.

"I advise them that they shouldn't be lighting fires but it's very cold."

Martin starts his morning rounds at 7am checking on the rough sleepers and armed with a flask of hot water, Bovril and hot chocolate, he patrols the sleeping spots.

Martin Sawers, Corby - rough sleeper outreach worker

Currently, 13 people are sleeping rough across the town with nine in an encampment in the town's woods within sight of the civic centre.

The figure fluctuates with people being housed, reducing numbers, and others coming to live in the woods after eviction, release from prison and even after discharge from hospital.

Andrzey Kurpiewski says has been living in a tent for 10 years and that he suffers from stress and depression.

He said: "It's a crazy situation. I'm living in the woods. I've mental problems. I've had an infection for three months and I'm on antibiotics. I'm waiting for the hostel."

Martin Sawers chats to the rough sleepers in the woods

The rough sleepers can access a variety of services across the town.

Corby Rise offers hot meals and drinks twice a week, during the day, at West Glebe Pavilion where guests can also shower and receive fresh clean clothes, food and toiletries.

Volunteer co-ordinator Ashlee Duncan started the service with Stacey Walden, a nurse.

She helps runs a well-being drop-in clinic at Lakeside Surgery every two weeks to enable people to access medical care including flu jabs and medication.

The encampment in the centre of Corby

They will be joining forces with staff of the Corby Urgent Care Centre on Christmas Day to host a lunch at the for the homeless from 1pm to 4pm with up to 40 people from the community.

Ashlee said: "That will be our Christmas dinner. We will sit down together as one big family, our kids as well. Everyone will be there."

Instead of Christmas cards this year, the staff from the Corby Urgent Care Centre team are donating towards a hamper for Corby Rise.

A reverse advent calendar initiative will provide the homeless with hampers, as the team donate essentials to help the community through the cold winter months.

Members of Corby Nightlight, who ran the hostel last winter using Corby's former police station, now use a catering van to provide hot meals five days a week offering free meals cooked and served by volunteers, from the car park in Everest Lane.

People on low or no income can also access the food banks at St Andrew and St Peter Church in Beanfield Avenue and St Columba's Church in Studfall Avenue.

Volunteers from Corby Rise l-r Craig Taylor, Ashlee Duncan and Jay Walden

Once the Dorking Walk 16-bed hostel is open it is hoped the shelter will be able to provide three meals a day but the unit needs to have more volunteers to come forward .

ENCS operations manager Jo Burns sad: "Corby is a really giving place and people can carry on that support through volunteering."

People who may be interested in volunteering can call ENCS on 01933 733001 or through their Facebook page.

The hostel in Dorking Walk