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Funding lifeline for charity fighting homelessness in Darlington

700 club logo

A Darlington-based charity that provides accommodation and support services to vulnerable individuals, families and couples who are homeless or at risk of being so has benefited from funding from the Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner and County Durham Community Foundation.

Over £150,000 of funding was made accessible to organisations in Country Durham and Darlington this year through the Community Safety Fund.

The Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner is delighted to have been able to provide a share of this funding to the 700 Club, enabling them to tackle begging in Darlington town, by encouraging people to seek longer term help to improve their lives.

The funding 700 Club has received from the Community Safety Fund has enabled the charity to employ an outreach worker, who works with vulnerable people within Darlington identified as begging or sleeping rough.

The aim of the project is to develop a support pathway helping people out of their life on the street. The project’s outreach worker is crucial to the 700 Club for building trusting relationships with people in need.

Steve White, Acting Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner said: “It is fantastic that we are able to support the 700 Club with this funding.  It has been outstanding how key support organisations in County Durham and Darlington have adapted amid the Covid-19 crisis in order to continue to provide their vital services, enabling more vulnerable people in our community to access the support they need.”

“The Street Outreach work 700 Club have been able to provide during this time is remarkable, as they have continued to work with individuals, support their needs and therefore help them remove the need to beg or sleep rough.

“700 Club has continued to provide temporary accommodation and support services to vulnerable individuals throughout the pandemic. Although the current situation is worrying for everyone, we need people to be aware that support still remains available at this time.”

The funding has helped deliver a project which is at the ‘sharp end’ of a multi-agency approach to end begging. The collaboration involves the police, civil enforcement, the Housing Options Team, Darlington Borough Council, and 700 Club.

The project has a four-strand approach – empathy, education, engagement and enforcement. Supported by Darlington’s Community Safety Partnership, the project works towards a safer Darlington for all.

700 Club Founder John Ellison wants to make sure people have what they need, so they no longer need to beg.

John Ellison said: “The big challenge was COVID-19. Ironically, lock-down achieved a strategic aim of the project – to stop the flow of money to beggars.”

“Empty streets during lockdown meant that begging stopped completely. Although the worker continued the daily check, only since the lockdown ended have people began to beg again.”

“But COVID-19 did not solve the issues that individuals had prior to lockdown and therefore the work could not stop.”

“Although we are seeing a decrease in the numbers begging which was our overall aim, this project has now turned into a prevention project and educating the public into knowing that they can help stop begging.”

“We want the public to know that by donating to a local Darlington Charity such as 700 Club we can work to solve the issue.”

For further information visit https://www.700club.org.uk/

Posted on Thursday 10th December 2020
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