853‘s special correspondent MERCURY MAN asks for your help with an important cause.
With this one I think we need to get down to business straight away, if you don’t mind. No messing.
I’d like as many of you as poss to click on to change.org/999Club-PreventingHomelessness and bring some help to what has for too long been a sad and sorry situation – domestic violence.
Too often it descends into homelessness for the victims, but, as you can see from the link, the 999 Club from our old Mercury stomping ground of Deptford is doing its darndest to bring aid that’s desperately needed.
Done it yet?
I’ll give you a reminder at the end but let me hand over to Nick Rose, who is the 999 Club’s head of fundraising and communications.
“Having a place to call home is a basic human right, but thousands of people in the UK do not have that,” says Nick.
“However, over the past decade, the landscape of homelessness and rough sleeping has been shifting from the traditional profile of middle-aged, alcohol-dependent males, to include a growing number of women.
“The causes of homelessness for women are often different from those of men and therefore require a different, bespoke approach to address their issues and concerns.
“As a result of feedback from a survey and workshops we carried out regarding clients’ needs, we have been working with female clients to create a safe space in The Gateway at Deptford Broadway, exclusively for homeless and vulnerable women.”
The women themselves have named it The Sanctuary, and we’ve all come across individuals who need it.
“This space and the services we provide will grow and develop through the community of women that use it so that everyone feels comfortable and enjoys the space in a way that suits their individual needs,” says Nick.
“It becomes a quiet space to be calm, to expand social networks or to share knowledge, compassion, and support. A bespoke service just for women would be unique to south-east London.
“One of the main issues for women becoming homeless is often that is the only way to escape domestic violence or abuse.
“We were becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in calls we were receiving from our local community, especially from women in the hardest to reach communities, who are struggling to receive life-changing, and potentially, life-saving support.”
While the charity applauds recent moves by the government to deal with the issue in the Domestic Violence Act, Nick says they do not go far enough.
“Like many,” says Nick, “we were also disappointed as the act is still not fully supporting women who have no recourse to public funds, are on visas or seeking asylum. They will still face multiple and incredibly complex challenges to securing the appropriate support, such as benefits and priority housing.”
The 999 Club, on Deptford Broadway, was started by Iris French and Patricia Wyndham in 1992 after they saw homeless people drinking in their local churchyard.
“Back then it was just the two of them with a toaster, a kettle and a typewriter, making cups of tea and sandwiches,” says Nick.
“Since then we have grown to a team of 16, including staff members who specialise in rehousing and homelessness prevention, finances and benefits, employment and education, and health and wellbeing. Since its inception, the 999 Club has helped over 20,000 people to get help with ending homelessness or in the prevention of people becoming homeless.”
There must have been pictures in the Mercury of Prince Charles’ visit in 2009 and the rapper Professor Green’s visit in 2018.
Nick adds: “We are now running a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and ask people to sign the petition to urge the government to ensure that all women, no matter what their status, can get access to emergency housing and avoid becoming homeless.
“Lewisham Deptford MP Vicky Foxcroft is supporting the campaign and has made a film for us. We have mailed our database of over 1,100 and done numerous posts on social media. To date, nearly 2,000 people have visited the petition website and at the moment we have 215 signatures.”
That link again: change.org/999Club-PreventingHomelessness
Get clicking! Thanks!
To find out more about the 999 Club, visit 999club.org.
Mercury Man talks to SE Londoners with interesting tales to tell. Read his past stories.
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