Villagers from Old Buckenham have raised over £32,000 for Norfolk homelessness charity St Martins in the last year.
The money was raised over the past twelve months mainly from collecting outside major supermarkets, an effort co-ordinated by Old Buckenham resident Michael Bartlett, who has been a committed supporter of St Martins for many years. A further donation was made by Old Buckenham 2000 Trust and from the Christmas Eve service at All Saints Church.
The money was handed over to the charity’s Chief Executive Dr Jan Sheldon on Saturday February 10 at the Gamekeeper pub in the village. Jan said, “We are grateful to the volunteers who have devoted their time to collect for St Martins and to the public who supported this appeal. This donation makes a real difference to us. It means that we can accommodate more people in our hostel who otherwise would be sleeping rough on the streets.”
One of St Martins’ clients, Ricky, spoke about his experience of homelessness. He went from being a proud member of the Territorial Army to sofa surfing at a friend’s house to sleeping on the beach before being offered at bed by St Martins. Ricky is now living a more stable life.
There has been an increase in rough sleeping across the UK, with East Anglia having the third highest numbers of rough sleepers after London and the West Midlands. St Martins is responding to this crisis and all the money raised will go towards facilities for an additional seven rough sleepers at the charity’s Bishopbridge House hostel in Norwich.
Life Skills Co-ordinator for St Martins, Nicky King, said that the charity works hard to teach practical skills to people who have been homeless so they are equipped to live a more independent life. She said, “Providing a bed for the night is just part of the answer. At St Martins we look at long-term solutions for people so they are able to look after themselves, gain employment and live a fulfilling life.”