Five reasons why you should support Ferry Project’s Wisbech night shelter and save it from closure

Ferry Project, Octavia View Wisbech, David in the Counseling suite. Picture: Steve Williams.

Ferry Project, Octavia View Wisbech, David in the Counseling suite. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

The Ferry Project needs your support to raise £65,000 and ensure its night shelter in Wisbech can continue to help homeless people.

Ferry Project, Octavia View Wisbech, David in his room. Picture: Steve Williams.

Ferry Project, Octavia View Wisbech, David in his room. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

It was supported by Government subsidies - but that funding finishes at the end of the month. The Ferry Project now needs £65,000 to keep the shelter open until Christmas.

Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech.

Ferry Project, Norfolk Street Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

This week, we bring you five examples of how the night shelter has proved invaluable to people left with nowhere else to go (their names have been changed to protect their identities).

We are appealing to you to organise events to raise funds - from coffee mornings to table-top sales, prize raffles to non-uniform days at your place of work or your child’s school.

Tell us if you do arrange an event - e-mail outlining details of your event. And don’t forget to tell us afterwards how much you raised.

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• Simon, a 46-year-old divorcee, was referred to the night shelter by police.

He is British, but his mother is Danish so he spent much of his life in Denmark.

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Whilst living in Denmark, he formed a relationship via Facebook with a lady in Wisbech. She travelled to Denmark a couple of times and they got on well, so Simon decided to move back to the UK and try to make a life with her.

However, a few days later the lady decided that Simon wasn’t the man for her, so asked police to remove him from her house.

Simon, a former soldier, told support workers he witnessed the suicide of his closest friend and saw two of his colleagues murdered by the IRA. He also said that his first wife had given birth to twins, but they died a few hours after their birth.

He also had quite a few medical problems. These included heart disease, pneumonia and a brain tumour.

An ambulance was called for him one night, as it was feared that his pneumonia had got worse.

Eventually, it was decided to move Simon to Octavia View on a temporary basis, because of his health and mental issues, until he could move into British Army Veterans accommodation.

• Darren, 24, a single British man, was referred to the shelter from Fenland District Council’s one-stop shop.

He was a carpenter/joiner by trade, but was unemployed at the time.

He had been sharing a house with his girlfriend in a village near Wisbech, but when the relationship ended, and his girlfriend moved out, he was unable to maintain the cost of running a house by himself.

Darren told support workers that he had previously suffered from depression. He was referred to the counsellor at Octavia View.

During a session, Darren said his relationship ended because his girlfriend had been accused of starting a fire and faced a possible jail sentence. As a result, the frequently argued.

Staff suggested to Darren to take advantage of educational facilities available at Octavia View, or maybe put his skills to good use and do some voluntary work.

Within a week Darren moved into Octavia View to receive 24-hour support. He has made good progress in this high support environment.

• Justina is a married 42-year-old Lithuanian.

She and her husband were among a number of eastern Europeans who were conned by recruitment agencies. They were brought to the shelter by police after sleeping rough for three nights.

They informed staff that they had paid nearly £1,000 between them for accommodation and work, only to find that when they got to Wisbech, there was neither work nor accommodation.

They didn’t speak English and they didn’t have enough money to get home. Luckily, they were discovered sleeping rough by police, who brought them to the shelter.

They explained their predicament to staff at the shelter, who offered them the chance to be reconnected back to Lithuania.

Support staff arranged for the council to meet the NRPF (no recourse to public funds) officer, who helps homeless migrants return home should they wish to do so.

The couple returned home within five days of being referred to the shelter.

• Gregorz is 40, Polish, and lived in the UK for about a year when he was referred to the shelter by police.

He had been doing factory work and was living with his sister.

When his employment with the factory ended, Gregorz decided that he didn’t want to claim benefits. Naturally, his sister still wanted rent and, because Gregorz wouldn’t claim benefits, his sister didn’t get any financial support.

This resulted in increasing friction between Gregorz and his sister and after an argument he was asked to leave.

Gregorz was taken to the shelter on a cold November night, where he was given the option of being ‘reconnected’ (repatriated) back to Poland.

Within 10 days, Gregorz was home.

• Neil is 32, separated and British. He separated from his wife on December 30 and had been ‘sofa surfing’ until he was referred to the shelter on January 6.

Neil suffered from depression and post traumatic stress disorder after an incident in which he asked a passerby to help jump-start his car, but was stabbed in his stomach and robbed.

He was offered counselling at Octavia View, the Ferry Project’s community hub, which was accepted.

Neil now lives in supported accommodation and is still receiving counselling. He is slowly recovering while getting the kind of help that someone with his issues needs.

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