A private place to wash and freshen up is something that most of us – fortunately - take for granted.
But if you are sleeping on the streets the simple act of washing and using toilet facilities can be difficult to access.
In Basingstoke, thanks to thousands of pounds raised through donations to the Real Change not Loose Change crowdfunding site, a new wet room has been opened at the Camrose Centre, based at Glebe Hall, St Michael’s Church in the town centre.
The clean, modern shower suite offers a safe place for homeless people to wash, have a shave and feel good, with wash kits and fresh towels supplied by the centre.
One of the first visitors, a man currently sleeping in a derelict building in Basingstoke, said: “Camrose would always let you have an all-over wash, which was a real help, but being able to have a hot shower at Glebe Hall is just great. It really warms me up. Thank you!”
The Real Change not Loose Change campaign was organised by Basingstoke Voluntary Action on behalf of the Social Inclusion Partnership, with support from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Over £20,000 was raised, which also paid for the centre to remain open for an extra day every week.
Camrose now opens from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, providing clients with a self-service breakfast and a hot lunch.
It offers a comfortable place where visitors can relax and play board games or read, and staff offer advice on housing, employment, drugs and alcohol issues.There are phone and computer facilities to assist with job applications and training can be given.
The Night Light winter shelter project was also funded by proceeds from the campaign – it provided a hot meal, a warm bed for the night and an opportunity to seek support at a pop-up shelter for five nights a week for those most in need during three cold months last winter.
Fundraising for this year's night shelter and other local homelessness projects is set to be launched on 10 October to mark World Homelessness Day.
St Michael’s Lay Minister and Camrose Centre trustee Mike Browning said: “The community support we have received has allowed us to focus on providing immediate help to street homeless people and vulnerable people recovering from or at risk of losing their homes.
“Camrose has a track record of improving the lives of local people – it makes a tangible difference to hundreds of people each year and has helped many people transform their lives.”
The centre welcomes donations of easily prepared food and snacks for people who are on the streets, basic catering supplies for breakfasts and lunches, good quality adult clothing, including new underwear and socks and personal hygiene supplies.
Managed by Basingstoke Voluntary Action Charity, the centre is also very grateful for financial donations to pay its running expenses.
Chair of the Social Inclusion Partnership and Deputy Leader at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Cllr Terri Reid said: “The Real Change Campaign has enabled the Camrose Centre to install a wet room and to open their day centre for those people sleeping on the streets and sofa surfers for an additional day.
“This is a real outcome delivering real change for people in difficulty, and this has been funded by local people who responded with such commitment and compassion to the campaign.
“This means better facilities at the Camrose for people who need it, and better and more frequent access to the support and care provided there.”
People are still being encouraged to support real change – find out how you can help to reduce homelessness in the borough and receive updates on fundraising visit www.basingstoke.gov.uk/real-change
If you wish to donate or volunteer at The Camrose Centre www.thecamrosecentre.org, phone 01256 327858 or email: email@example.com