Shelters For The Homeless
Being homeless is something that many of us do not like to dwell on. There is much stigma and misinformation about homelessness and homeless shelters in the UK. However, there are a few people who offer a hand to help in an hour of need. The YMCA in Lincolnshire is one such group of people.
Overall, Crisis estimated that in 2021 in England, Scotland and Wales, around 227,000 people were experiencing the worst forms of homelessness: rough sleeping, sleeping in vans and sheds, and being stuck in B&Bs.
Each year, around 700 homeless people die, with about two in every five being related to drug poisoning, and sadly, around one in ten being suicides.
The YMCA in Lincolnshire, led by Caroline Killeavy, has really made a difference in the lives of homeless people in their local community through their Nomad Centre shelter.
The Nomad Centre
The new Nomad Centre replaces the previous shelter of the same name on Monks Road in Lincoln. The new centre dramatically changes the provision and care that is offered. Despite the sincere and much-valued work that has gone on for many years at the Nomad Shelter, the new facility is a significant step forward.
The location of the Nomad Centre
The new Nomad Centre boasts 20 en-suite rooms. The rooms are not huge, but clean, bright, and secure. They bring a sense of dignity to the care that is given and a much needed feeling of safety to those who use them.
Speaking to some of the users of the centre, feeling safe is really valued. Out on the street, or crammed into dormitory-style rooms, physical safety is a daily threat. Often, I was told, their few treasured belongings, carried in pockets and bags, are stolen. It is especially traumatic as these are people who are already emotionally at risk.
Alongside the individual rooms, the Nomad Centre boasts two new hostel rooms, a professional kitchen, day centre facilities, and most importantly, 24/7 access for residents – all much needed upgrades from the previous offer to those sleeping rough.
The Grand Opening
It was my pleasure to document the opening of this remarkable provision from the YMCA. I was particularly struck by the way in which attitudes towards the homeless have changed, and are still changing in Lincoln.
The work done is only the tip of the iceberg, but I was moved by members of the community describing, in such a positive way, the future for local people without a home.
The new centre supports people without homes. People forced to sleep rough, often with complex and difficult backgrounds, may have suffered from abuse, addiction, or simply have fallen on hard times.
The demand for homelessness services in Lincolnshire is extremely high, with street homelessness in Lincoln three times higher now than it was in 2010.This is a common misunderstanding.
Change of Attitude Towards The Homeless
In his speech, Ian Sackree, Chair of YMCA Lincs, highlighted to us the desperate conditions that people find themselves in. The behaviour of people in such need can often be misinterpreted and pigeon-holed without true compassion and understanding.
One example he gave was of an individual only owning 3 objects. Nothing more. If someone else tried to take one of those 3, it is understandable that they would fight tooth and nail to keep hold of them.
It made me reflect on all that I had. Not only my belongings, but my wife and children, a happy home, relationships, and opportunities.
How would I react if it were all taken from me?
How about you?
Allen Gibson, representing Tesco, relayed to me how he had visited the previous Nomad Shelter. Filled with emotion at what he saw and with the stories of the users of the shelter, he came away determined to make a real difference. Not just in raising money to provide the new centre, but in working to change local people's attitudes towards the homeless around them.
VIP Opening of the Nomad Centre for the Homeless in Lincoln
The Centre was opened by Toby Dennis, Lord-Lieutenant, Susan Burke, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Lincoln, The Rev Canon John Patrick, Ian Sackree, and Caroline Killeavy.
It was impressive to see the great and good from the community supporting the centre. Equally moving was the support of those who had stayed at the previous shelter, those who had come through the system and now had established themselves in society.
Tomorrow looks a little brighter in Lincoln for those in desperate need of somewhere to lay their heads. There is now a place where the lonely and forgotten can find a warm meal, a bed, safety and privacy.
Perhaps next time we walk past someone on the street without a home, we will stop and show our care too.
The Photographer For You
If you are looking for a professional photographer to cover your event or document your story, get in touch for a no-obligation chat about your requirements: