Grave concerns as demand increases for Wisbech night shelter
A director of the Wisbech night shelter says demand for the service is increasing.
Keith Smith says he is grave concerns for the winter after seeing beds at the Ferry Project fill up earlier than usual.
The night shelter offers 14 beds at the Octavia View site and costs £60,000 a year to run.
Up to 400 people a year, mainly men, seek the help of the Ferry Project, which also runs a hostel and other services.
Mr Smith told last night’s (Monday, October 26) Wisbech Town Council meeting that demand for the night shelter is “increasing dramatically.”
He said: “We have grave concerns for the winter this year. We will see not few but large numbers of people sleeping rough in the area.
“We are not sure where they will go, locations like a farmer’s field.
“We are very concerned. Traditionally we are full in December but we are full now.”
Mr Smith also told the town council that the Ferry Project needs to invest £1 million at The Queen Mary Centre and is applying for grants.
The group took over the Queen’s Road centre two-and-a-half years ago after Cambridgeshire County Council was looking to knock it down.
Now the centre is vibrant with 50 community groups using the facilities.
But there are problems with the building which needs expensive repairs.
Four different surveys have highlighted that the roof will soon start to leak.
And the 25-year-old heating system has broken down six times since it was turned on in October.
Mr Smith said funders will not award the amount of money needed to a building with a lease less than 25 years.
He told the council: “We are trying to convince the county council.
“We would appreciate it if you could say you support us in keeping the community centre open to be used by the community.
“If they would give us the centre that would be brilliant. If they want to keep ownership that would be brilliant but we just need the lease.”