Lifeline for homeless people battling addictions thanks to Lottery grant

Helping Hands Essex is benefiting from a Lottery grant. Picture: HELPING HANDS ESSEX

Helping Hands Essex is benefiting from a Lottery grant. Picture: HELPING HANDS ESSEX - Credit: Archant

Homeless people are set to benefit from a lifeline £270,000 grant to a revive a charity helping rough sleepers with addictions.

Helping Hands Essex's previous site in Brockley Road, Chelmsford being demolished. Picture: HELPING

Helping Hands Essex's previous site in Brockley Road, Chelmsford being demolished. Picture: HELPING HANDS ESSEX - Credit: Archant

Helping Hands Essex was forced to drastically cut back its services helping homeless alcoholics last year after it had to give up premises it used at a peppercorn rent in Brockley Road, Chelmsford to make way for a new development.

Without a base, it was unable to provide the residential support crucial to helping addicts recover from their problems.

But now the charity is to receive £270,000 over three years from the National Lottery Communities Fund, with Chelmsford City Council also donating £71,500 over the same time period.

“This grant has set the charity well on track to reopen to new resident clients in the summer,” a spokesman said of the Lottery money.


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Helping Hands director Graham Pooley said it would make a huge difference to tackling homelessness across Mid Essex.

“People now realise that there is often more going on behind the scenes of people who are presenting as being in a homelessness situation,” he said.

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“A combination of addiction and mental health issues in many cases goes some way to explain why they ended up on the streets and how difficult it is to recover.

“Our experience over the past six years has been very encouraging and we’ve had people who have completed the programme to the point where they have re-engaged with their families.

“For them, it’s been a bridge back to some sort of normal living and the beginning of people putting their lives back together again.”

He added: “To try to address it without a roof over one’s head has got to be doubly difficult and, for some, just not achievable.

“It’s been hard to say no to potential new resident clients last year, but we and those who refer or signpost to us are now really looking forward to the future.”

However he admitted that the scale of homelessness across Essex meant the charity’s work is only “scratching the surface”.

Chairman Val Chiswell added: “This and the tremendous grant from the Lottery mean our future is now more secure.”

The charity is now looking to recruit volunteers and a small number of key additional staff, and to add to its trustee board. It welcomes donations in cash or kind. For more information, visit the charity’s website.

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