Wellingborough church buys house for rough sleepers

Vicar Melvyn Pereria with Paul McSharry and empowerment worker Jayne Jones.
Vicar Melvyn Pereria with Paul McSharry and empowerment worker Jayne Jones.

Members of a Wellingborough church have bought a house that will be used to help the town’s rough sleepers get off the streets and back on their feet.

Spurred on by the growing homeless crisis in the town, Gleneagles Anglican Church has purchased a three-bedroom home in the town and will be using it to give a long-term home to two people.

The church is working with Peterborough homeless charity Hope into Action on the project and members of the congregation have used their own savings to invest in the home.

Vicar Melvyn Pereira said: “We first heard about Hope into Action in January 2017 when we heard its founder Ed Walker speak at a Churches Together event. As he spoke people from our church were very interested in the concept and so member Paul McSharry headed it up and a group of investors were found. They become part owners in the property and will get their investment back over time.

“We are receiving referrals and will be able to have two tenants who will move into the property soon.

“There is no time limit on how long people can stay, but we hope that people can become independent and be able to move on within 18 months to two years.”

The house is in tip-top condition and members of the church have also donated new belongings to make sure it is fully kitted out. Church members have received training from Hope into Action and empowerment worker Jayne Jones will work with the tenants to help them take back control of their lives.

Melvyn said: “The homeless situation in Wellingborough is bad. We will work with the tenants right from the start and find out what their strengths are and how they can build on them. It will be small steps but we will work with them until they are capable of independent living.”

The vicar said his church is not ruling out buying another property once this one is under way.

Gleneagles Anglican Church was formed in 1990 and meets weekly at Redwell Primary School. It is fundraising for its own premises.

Hope into Action was the brainchild of Christian Ed Walker who was inspired by the actions of Mother Theresa to provide a home for those without one.

The charity now supports a number of church-bought homes across the country and the scheme works by members investing their savings and receiving repayment partly through the housing benefit the tenants will receive.

Ed Walker said: “We’ve been working with Gleneagles Church for a while and are really excited about seeing them house the homeless in their locality.”

Wellingborough has a strong network of voluntary organisations who work together as part of the Wellingborough Homeless forum to try to tackle the growing crisis in the town.

The Daylight Centre opens four mornings a week and there is a roving night shelter that provides a warm bed in church halls five nights a week.

There are plans for a permanent night shelter in the grounds of Wellingborough School which is set to open in the coming months.

Anyone who would like to contact empowerment worker Jayne Jones with a referral of someone who could become a tenant of the new home can email jayne.jones@hia.org.uk