E&E | Join our appeal this Christmas

Express and Echo

06 December 2012

Join our appeal this Christmas

St Petrock’s has told the Echo it is seeing record numbers of homeless people accessing their services

It is always tempting to turn a blind eye to the visible evidence of homelessness on our streets.After all, the causes are invariably complex and there is rarely a quick fix, a magic solution.Mental health issues and alcohol and / or drug dependency may also form part of the scenario which has led to someone – someone’s son or daughter – living on the streets.If we even stop to acknowledge there is a problem, we may quickly conclude there’s nothing we, as individuals, can do to help.

In truth, the scale of the problem is hidden from most of us. ‘Sofa surfing’ is on the increase, with those without a permanent address moving from place to place. That is evidenced by the increase in the number of people coming into contact with St Petrock’s homeless charity.

The need to address the issue of homelessness in Exeter was brought into sharp focus by the tragic death of 21-year-old Michelle Conroy, who was sleeping rough in a tent off Western Way when she was killed by a falling tree.

That Michelle died just a stone’s throw from Exeter’s vibrant, economically thriving city centre just hours after Christmas shoppers had been filling the tills highlights the gulf between those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to go on a festive spending spree and those for whom a roof over their head would be a luxury.

The truth is that we can do something to help. We may not be able to directly tackle the problems in someone’s life which drives them onto the streets, but we can help those who are qualified to help the homeless, by making a donation to charity.

That’s why we are asking Echo readers to dig deep for our Help the Homeless Christmas appeal, in aid of St Petrock’s.

The money raised will help pay for support services for those most in need, with the aim of helping them to change their lives and ultimately find a way back into mainstream society.

In households across the city and the region, huge amounts of money will be spent ensuring Christmas is as fun as it can be.

So when you’re spending, just spare a thought for those who won’t be able to enjoy the same kind of Christmas, and consider making even a small donation to our appeal.

As we said last week, Michelle’s death shames us all. The fact that we have, in a thriving, modern city in a developed nation, people living on our streets shames us all. Together we have a chance to help make a difference.


3 thoughts on “E&E | Join our appeal this Christmas

  1. E&E | 11 December 2012

    Echo readers show support for Help The Homeless Christmas Appeal

    St Petrock’s, in Cathedral Yard, Exeter, has told the Echo it is seeing record numbers of homeless people accessing their services

    GENEROUS Echo readers have been showing their support for the Help The Homeless Christmas appeal.

    St Petrock’s, in Cathedral Yard, Exeter, has told the Echo it is seeing record numbers of homeless people accessing their services.

    And the charity has urged Echo readers to donate what they can as Christmas approaches. We have already received a number of donations and we thank everyone for their support.

    The appeal came as the boyfriend of Michelle Conroy, 21, who was killed by a falling tree as she slept rough in a tent on Western Way, in Exeter, called for more night-time provision for the homeless.

    Anyone who would like to donate to St Petrock’s can send a cheque, payable to St Petrock’s (Exeter) Ltd, to Help the Homeless, Express & Echo, Heron Road, Sowton, Exeter EX2 7NF or text Petr01 to 70070


  2. Express & Echo | 13 December 2012

    Express and Echo Readers dig deep to raise £600 for ‘survival services’

    THEY are a lifeline for the city’s homeless community.

    And never before has Exeter-based homeless charity St Petrock’s seen its vital services in so much demand.

    Homelessness in Exeter is on the increase, with a rising number of rough sleepers and a hidden number of “sofa surfers”.

    With temperatures plummeting, those seeking refuge on the city’s streets face a cold and unforgiving Christmas.

    And the brutality of the weather for those sleeping rough was plain to see when it recently claimed the life of a young woman in Exeter.

    Michelle Conroy, 21, was killed by a falling tree as she slept rough in a tent on Western Way, in Exeter, during stormy weather.

    The homeless community urged Michelle’s death not to be in vain, while charities expressed their sorrow over such a tragedy.

    The Echo responded by launching a Christmas appeal – Help the Homeless.

    And within just a week of urging people to donate what they could, we have raised more than £600.

    The generosity shown by Echo readers has been welcomed by St Petrock’s.

    Gill Luckings from the charity said: “We want to thank all the Express and Echo readers and everyone for showing such a brilliant response to the campaign.

    “This money will help provide what we call our survival services to people who are homeless or vulnerably housed in the city this winter.”

    St Petrock’s “survival services” include:

    Food and hot drinks

    Sleeping bags, thermos flasks, warm clothing and rucksacks

    Showers and laundry services

    The charity also run several projects, including getting people off the streets and into supported accommodation.

    Gill said: “We have to be flexible with the funding we have – we try not to ring-fence the funding but use it where it is most needed.

    “We have a response team who work with new rough sleepers and get them off the streets as quickly as possible.

    “This may be through reconnecting them or getting them into temporary accommodation.

    “The response team have picked up 82 per cent of rough sleepers in Exeter within 24 hours over the last six months – half of those were from Devon.

    “This is really important work and it prevents the rough sleepers becoming entrenched.

    “Working with entrenched rough sleepers is very intensive and takes a long time.

    “It takes some time to convince people to change their lifestyles and move off the streets, which is why support is so important.”

    The charity also offer a “private rented service” whereby they pay up-front costs in order to get someone into a property and are then paid back by the client over a period of time.

    Another project run by St Petrock’s is PORCH – prolific offender resettlement into community housing – which sees a team of two working with the probation service and police to re-home persistent offenders.

    A team from the charity also work at HMP Exeter in helping to resettle prisoners who serve 12 months or less.

    Gill said the projects were “key” to providing supported accommodation.

    “These projects work really successfully,” she said.

    “It is often work people don’t know about, but is something that is really important to us.

    “It is great being able to offer people accommodation options.

    “If we are going to change lives we have to give them accommodation that is supported.”

    The charity are keen to hear from any landlords who would be interested in supporting St Petrock’s private rented scheme.

    With bitterly cold temperatures hitting the city this week, the charity’s ‘winter provision’ scheme has kicked in.

    When the temperature drops to freezing or below for three consecutive nights, homeless charities across Exeter join forces with the city council to ensure that rough sleepers are offered a warm place to bed down for the night.

    Steve was a former client of St Petrock’s before becoming a volunteer at the centre.

    “I’d been a client of St Petrock’s for about three-and-half-years when I was asked whether I’d help out with winter provision as a volunteer,” he told the Echo.

    “It was just what I needed – I knew I had to make changes but this meant I had to be more responsible and cut down on my drinking if I was going to help out at night at St Petrock’s and that’s what I did.

    “It made me realise that if I could take control and that if I was going to look after my health I needed to find accommodation and get off the streets.”

    He added: “I’ve now been in accommodation for 19 months and will be helping out with winter provision tonight by serving hot drinks and snacks to the nine or so rough sleepers that will be bedding down in St Petrock’s.”

    Echo readers are encouraged to keep sending what they can to help our Christmas appeal.

    Editor of the Express and Echo Andy Phelan said he was overwhelmed by the response to the appeal.

    “The generosity shown by our readers has been incredible,” he said.

    “We launched our Christmas appeal Help the Homeless with the aim of raising awareness of the issue of homelessness in Exeter and providing some support to a very worthy charity – St Petrock’s.

    “The death of Michelle was a tragedy and touched many people and they have responded with the most overwhelming generosity.

    “I would really urge people to give what they can to our appeal this Christmas.”

    Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said the response from the people of Exeter to the appeal was “wonderful”.

    “I commend the people of Exeter for their generosity.

    “These are tough times financially for many people, and Christmas can put an extra strain on family budgets, so it’s wonderful that so many people are dipping into their pockets for those less fortunate than themselves.

    “Christmas, don’t let us forget, is a religious festival celebrating the birth of Jesus in a stable, because his parents couldn’t find anywhere to rest their heads.”

    Landlords interested in helping with St Petrock’s private rented scheme should contact the charity on 01392 422396.

    Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact the Devon and Cornwall Rough Sleeping Partnership number on 0800 151 3441.

    For those sending in donations to the Echo’s appeal Help the Homeless, anyone requesting a gift aid form can do so from St Petrock’s by contacting them on 01392 422396.


  3. E&E | 10 January 2013

    Echo’s Help the Homeless appeal cash is ‘overwhelming’

    By Eleanor Gregson

    ECHO readers have helped to raise more than £3,000 in just a few weeks as part of our Christmas appeal Help the Homeless.

    Exeter-based charity St Petrock’s, who were presented with the cash this week, said they were “overwhelmed” by readers’ generosity.

    The Echo launched the appeal just a few weeks before the festive season, following the tragic death of rough sleeper Michelle Conroy.

    The 21-year-old died during the floods when a large tree fell on the tent she was sleeping in off Western Way, Exeter.

    Michelle’s death sparked a public outcry over the number of rough sleepers in Exeter and the city’s homeless community called for her death not to be in vain.

    In response, the Echo urged readers to give what they could and you did not let us down.

    Within the first week, readers had raised more than £600 and now, less than a month on, the appeal has finished and the total stands at more than £3,000.

    Mel Hartley, of St Petrock’s, said the funds would make a real difference.

    “We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported this appeal,” she said.

    “It makes a real difference to the continuation of our services.

    “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of readers, especially at this difficult time of year with Christmas and the recession.

    “We also want to thank the Express and Echo for running this campaign – it is always good to raise awareness of the issues around homelessness, which are varied and complex.

    “The money will go towards all our vital services with the aim of helping people get into accommodation as quickly as possible, along with providing them with the support they need.

    “We have had a really good Christmas and have had a lot of money coming in – it has increased on last year which is amazing really.

    “To all the other people out there who have helped support us this Christmas, we would also like to thank them.”

    St Petrock’s is continuing to look for private landlords to take part in their private rented scheme and anyone interested in working with the charity should contact them on 01392 422396.

    Anyone who wishes to donate to St Petrock’s can send a cheque to the charity payable to St Petrock’s (Exeter) Ltd, to St Petrock’s, 10 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, EX1 1HJ.


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