Exclusive: Government says ‘exceptional nature’ of case prompted offer of cash to help save Wisbech night shelter for the homeless

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins (left) with MP Steve Barclay; their meeting led to Government help for the Wisbech homeless shelter Housing Minister Kris Hopkins (left) with MP Steve Barclay; their meeting led to Government help for the Wisbech homeless shelter

Saturday, May 3, 2014
12:10 AM

The Government has stepped in with a cash offer of up to £44,000 to help save a night shelter for the homeless in Wisbech.

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Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech.Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech.

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said the “exceptional nature” of the case put to him had prompted the Government response.

The offer follows intervention by NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay who wrote to Mr Hopkins at the end of March and later met him and officials to hammer home the case for the shelter.

“After the negative news in the Sun newspaper story last weekend it is good to have positive news on an important local resource helping the most vulnerable of all nationalities in our community,” said Mr Barclay.

Mr Hopkins said Fenland District Council had played an important role in helping to secure the future of the Norfolk Street hostel.

Ferry Project, Wisbech. The new on site printing machine at Ferry Project Norfolk Street.Ferry Project, Wisbech. The new on site printing machine at Ferry Project Norfolk Street.

“Fenland Council has made a commitment to ensure the shelter remains open in 2014/15 and to support the Ferry Project in their work to secure funding from local partners,” said the minister.

“In turn my department, given the exceptional nature of the case, is offering a financial commitment of up to £44,000 to meet any remaining shortfall in 2014/15.”

Mr Hopkins said: “This is really good news, Clearly the night shelter is an important local resource which has done much to help rough sleepers and I do hope that local partners can continue to work positively together to ensure its long term future.”

The minister said he understood that profits from the Ferry Project’s newly established social enterprise, Ferry Print, will help the shelter achieve its objective of becoming self-sustaining for future years.

Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech. One of the night shelter bedrooms.Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech. One of the night shelter bedrooms.

Mr Barclay said he had “lobbied very hard” behind the scenes to say the Government needed to support the shelter.

Kevin Smith, director of the Ferry Project, said last month there had been an incredible response since the financial crisis facing the night shelter was first revealed. In just four weeks £40,000 was pledged to help.

“I never imagined this kind of response- it’s been incredible,” he said.

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