The Scrine Foundation is a leading homeless charity in Canterbury, but back in July Kent County Council (KCC) decided to withdraw three service contracts worth £660,000; the charity’s 66 full-time and part-time staff have been put on notice of losing their jobs sometime next month.
The Scrine’s Open Centre in Canterbury is the only place in Kent where homeless people can stay overnight in a safe place, the loss of this crucial service for the dozens of homeless people who rely on the shelter, and the service Scrine provides, would have a detrimental affect on the welfare and safety of the city’s homeless, especially over the coming Winter months.
At present Scrine’s Board of Trustees have voted to appeal KCC’s decision to withdraw the contracts and to “assign them over to an alternative” provider, as one KCC spokesman as said. However, it remains to be seen which other ‘providers’ would offer the Open Centre service that Scrine provides, meaning the loss of the Open Centre would have wide-reaching repercussions for not only the homeless and vulnerable people that rely on the centre, but also on the local community, of whom many are passive towards Canterbury’s homeless, but others are deeply compassionate towards.
The deadline is looming and time is running out to resolve the issue with KCC. I would be very interested to see who KCC has approached as an ‘alternative provider’, and would be very suspicious as to their motivations in switching provider, despite the resounding endorsements Scrine has recieved from former residents. The local Conservative MP, Julian Brazier, who continually trumps up his ‘support’ for local homeless charities, has made no public comment on the issue, instead he’s flying about all over the place…literally!
I for one hope a solution can be found, and quickly. I know already that the University of Kent student group, Students Against Homelessness, are planning to work their socks off at ‘Fresher’s Fair’ next week to get as many students involved as possible. Last year they held a very successful sleepout and I hope this becomes an annual event to send a strong reminder to all that Canterbury cares.