Homeless man’s appeal to save Horsham ARK charity

The Ark. Pic Steve Robards SR1517682 SUS-150723-151019001
The Ark. Pic Steve Robards SR1517682 SUS-150723-151019001

As the search goes on for a new home for Horsham charity, one of its homeless clients has described what its demise would mean to him.

The ARK Horsham runs a drop in service three days a week for people who are unemployed, homeless or struggling with addictions and other life controlling issues.

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

In September its lease at the Horsham United Reformed Church in Springfield Road is coming to an end and The County Times is backing them in a campaign to find a new base.

Neil Bottomly explains what it would mean to people like him who are on the streets should ARK close.

He said: “I really don’t know what I am going to do come September if ARK isn’t there to help me. At the moment I can go to ARK three times a week and they really help me.

“The days when ARK isn’t open can feel really lonely when you haven’t got anywhere to go to talk to see a friendly face, have a cuppa etc. I am living in a tent in field at the moment.

“I don’t seem to matter to anyone except to the lovely people at ARK.”

ARK Horsham client Neil Bottomley

“I don’t seem to matter to anyone except to the lovely people at ARK.

“Today ARK has given me a new sleeping bag and I will be able to have something hot to eat at lunchtime. I cannot tell you how important a hot meal is.

“I feel human when I am at ARK, sitting round a table, eating and talking with everyone.

“Not everyone is homeless, lots of people go to ARK for lots of different reasons. We are all the same when we are there, no one is treated differently.

Home for the ARK SUS-150619-120009001

Home for the ARK SUS-150619-120009001

A sense of family

“I have been to lots of different places for support over the years, ARK feels different, there is a real sense of family and belonging.

“I really like it.”

“ARK is really my lifeline. I use the computers to look for accommodation, I am entitled to the rent deposit scheme that Horsham District Council operates but I cannot find a landlord who will accept DSS claimants.

“Horsham District Council say that I am not priority need for them to help despite letters from my doctors saying how unwell I am.

“I was calling into the council housing department nearly every day but was told by 
them that they would call the police and have me removed if I continued to do so. I don’t know what they expect,

“I am homeless. Where else do I go?

“I am trying really hard to turn my life around. I used to have a drug habit and have managed to get clean since I have been coming to ARK.

“It’s really difficult to stay sober when your homeless. I sofa surf from time to time but that usually means that I am around people who are still using drugs or alcohol and that jeopardises my recovery.

“I just need a chance, a key to my own front door. I feel that I am at the right place in my life to manage a tenancy and wouldn’t throw it away.

“I use the ARK address to have my mail sent to and also have used it to register at a GP’s without ARK and lots of people like me are going to really suffer.

“ARK has a telephone that people can use and without that it’s going to be really difficult to make appointments etc.

“The friends I have made at ARK are really worried about what is going to happen if ARK cannot find another place and how they are going to cope with out the encouragement and support ARK offers.”

WHAT ARK NEEDS

The charity is looking for a place it can hire up to seven days a week where it can run its drop-in service. Finances are limited for the rent it can afford.

Any offer of a property they could use temporarily or on a permanent basis, will be gratefully considered.

A town centre location would be preferable, but otherwise located somewhere which is accessible by public transport. It must also be accessible for disabled people.

The charity needs access to a kitchen to make hot lunches and storage for its foodbank and activity materials.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

ARK is appealing to businesses and individuals to think about supporting them regularly through a financial donation so they can approach a bank for a mortgage or secure a lease.

Donations would not only go towards paying bills, but also on other expenses such as taking the group on outings, rehabilitation courses for people struggling with addictions and travel expenses to job interviews and medical appointments.

- Anyone who can help financially or can provide a new home can call the ARK’s founding director Lisa Burrell on 07825 284054, email lisa@thearkhorsham.org.uk or go to thearkhorsham.org.uk

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