CAMPAIGN: ‘Unsettling time’ as ARK closes at church

County Times campaign: ARK Horsham homelessness charity needs a new home. Pic Steve Robards
County Times campaign: ARK Horsham homelessness charity needs a new home. Pic Steve Robards

After weeks of campaigning and appeals from its members the charity ARK Horsham closed its doors this week.

The County Times has featured personal stories from the ARK ‘family’ over the past weeks saying how it has helped them turn their lives around from drug addiction, alcoholism, homelessness and other life-controlling issues.

Home for the ARK

Home for the ARK

But on Thursday (September 3) their lease at Horsham United Reformed Church comes to an end leaving them without a base. Their helpline will stay open, but with no property, their services will be limited.

Founding director Lisa Burrell said: “As the ARK family comes to this sad and unsettling time of not having a home from which we can provide support to the local community, I cannot help but be thankful for all the needs we have been able to meet over the past five years at the URC. My heart smiles as I remember the family who have grown and overcome difficult circumstances along the way.

“Sharing amongst us the joy of owning a front door key for the first time, of getting in touch with lost family, of getting clean and sober, of reading for the first time, of getting a job etc. We’ve also shared the tears of loved ones lost to addiction and illnesses, of circumstances often beyond the control of the individual that have bought great distress to them from time to time.

“ARK has had the honour of sharing lives with over 800 local people in its journey so far.

“I have been amazed at the love and support the ARK has had from local churches, businesses and individuals over the years and I am truly thankful to each and every person who has supported ARK with either their time, gifts or finances - please continue to support us whilst we look a new ARK family home.

“At the moment ARK is working with other services where possible to ensure a continuity of support for individuals. Our thoughts and prayers will be with those known to us for whom meeting at ARK is currently a lifeline and ARKs current circumstances will impact hard.”

She said the search would continue for a home and anyone who can help with this can email her on lisa@thearkhorsham.org.uk.

Meanwhile many charities, which refer their clients to ARK, have appealed to Horsham District and West Sussex County councils warning of the consequences of ARK closing.

And council officers are working to make sure people do not fall through the gaps.

A HDC spokesman said: “The Ark has been providing a valuable support and mentoring service to disadvantaged people across the district including some who have experienced homelessness. Since learning that the ARK is to leave its home in Springfield Road in September, we have been working closely with them to try to find another property that meets their needs. To date we have not found a premises that suits their specific requirements.

“However, we have also been in discussion with other charities - Horsham Matters and Worthing Churches Homeless Projects - to make sure that people continue to receive the support and advice they need as well as liaising with Sussex Police and the county council so that we can continue to support vulnerable people.” She added HDC runs a housing advice drop-in service for anyone facing housing issues or homelessness 9am-11.30am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham. People can also call 01403 215204.

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