For many of us, understanding the problems that the homeless face every day is difficult to understand; some of us are perhaps, too judgmental. That is most definitely not the case of the 40 or so volunteers who give their time to support to the homeless and others in our town who have complex social issues. These issues range from being socially isolated, to those facing a variety of different difficulties such as debt or mental health problems, to substance abuse or perhaps alcohol addiction.
Rotarian Iain Wallis introduced John Saunders from Devizes OPENDOORS who gave an enlightening presentation on the work undertaken by the charity – including welcoming up to 25 or so guests to breakfast, lunch or dinner on three days each week. He went on to say that more than 120 individuals have come through the door in the first half of this year.
Providing a meal, three days a week is just one aspect of OPENDOORS work. In addition to freshly cooked meals, the drop in centre (which is in The Parish Rooms in Long Street) offers a secure meeting point, shower facilities and advice on a range of issues from professionals.
In addition to providing a meal three days each week, a fourth weekly session called NEXT Club has recently been introduced. The NEXT club provides an opportunity for those in need to do things together and aims to provide individual, tailored support through a befriending scheme. In due course OPENDOORS wants to offer the homeless a temporary shelter in the winter months and long-term hostel accommodation.
OPENDOORS is entirely funded by grants such as that from the Wiltshire Community Foundation, from donations, from churches and fund raising – which includes an annual jumble sale and a winter sleep-out! Even with generous support from three local supermarkets, the charity still needs to raise some £16000.00 a year.
The number of questions posed at the end of John’s presentation, was testimony to the interest he generated. Clearly Rotarians were indebted to John Saunders for taking time to explain the work of OPENDOORS. The vote of thanks was given by Rotarian Tom MacMeekin.
President Devizes Rotary