‘DEVASTATED’ charity members who have helped the town’s homeless for two decades have been told to leave their long-held town centre premises - plunging its future into doubt.
Barnsley Churches Drop-In Project has been providing hot drinks, food, clothing and toiletries to the town’s homeless and vulnerable from its Pitt Street base.
Charity bosses say they have been given notice to leave the hub by next Wednesday - something which has devastated its contingent of volunteers.
Kate Raynor, chair of the charity, said: “We’re honestly devastated and overwhelmed.
“We understand that the landlord is trying to sell the building and we knew we wouldn’t be able to stay long term but the timeframe, and the proximity to Christmas, is proving really difficult.
“Our clients are already worried about making it through the winter.
“Those who are not sleeping on the streets are often in insecure housing or sofa surfing.
“Everyone’s aware of the cost-of-living increases at the moment and for those who are on the lowest incomes it’s a very scary time.
“We want to continue to provide some stability for our clients.
“We are the only consistent thing in some of their lives. They know that no matter what else happens that day they can get a hot drink and something to eat from us.
“We are hoping to find somewhere to continue operating from over the Christmas period which is particularly difficult for some of our clients.
“Heading into the winter months we want to be able to keep providing warm clothes and blankets where needed.
“Our main focus at the moment is to find somewhere that we can store our equipment and hopefully run something very basic to at least support the most vulnerable.
“It’s not just about feeding people when they’re hungry, but about giving people a bit of hope.
“I have seen first-hand the impact of small gestures of kindness on people who have felt that no-one cares about them.”
The dining room closed in March 2020 - due to the Covid-19 pandemic - but volunteers continued to provide hot drinks, food and sleeping bags to those sleeping rough throughout periods of lockdown.
Since restrictions eased, the charity has been a go-to place for the town’s homeless - on a nightly basis - for clients to get hot drinks, sandwiches and other essentials.
Leaders at the charity are now scrambling for alternate premises to operate from, as well as short-term help with storage as a result of the imminent eviction.
A spokesperson for Barnsley Council added: “We were not informed about the eviction, but with the current challenges and the weather getting colder, we understand that some people will find it very difficult this Christmas.
“If anyone knows someone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness, or would like to report a rough sleeper to us, they can do it by calling 01226 773870.”
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, told the Chronicle the news was ‘deeply concerning’.
“As we head into the winter period, more people than ever will be reliant on the support BCDP provides.
“I hope the charity is able to find a new home and continue it’s vital work supporting our most vulnerable.”