Light Project Peterborough launches Garden House Project
A new pilot project to provide support and friendship to people living on the street in Peterborough begins this month in Garden House, tucked away within the Cathedral Precincts.
The scheme is being run by local Christian charity Light Project Peterborough, the same charity that has been running a Winter Night Shelter in the city for the last three years, in collaboration with local churches. Their experience of providing winter accommodation every night over 13 weeks has taught them two things. One is that they need to extend the period during which they offer the service – the coldest weather is often later in March – and the other is that the people they serve very often have nowhere to go during the day. There might be places to find a meal or clothing but little in the way of activity or purpose. This leaves people who want to change their lives for the better open to abuse and negative influences.
So now the plan is to extend the Winter Night Shelter to 16 weeks this year, and to use Garden House as a centre for daytime support. Steven Pettican, who leads Light Project Peterborough's work with the homeless, explains:
“We’re taking the Garden House scheme slowly and finding our feet. It’s all about sustainable community living, so we will offer services like healthcare, job search, or benefits advice. The quality of what we do is more important than the quantity. We’d rather work with a few people and help them to really make a difference to their lives, than go for large numbers. People need a sense of family and love and this is easier with small numbers.
“The location is ideal because it’s central and no-one can say it’s difficult to get here. It’s also great to have the garden to tidy up because there is always plenty to do. It’s peaceful too, a safe place with no drink or drugs where people can come for a couple of hours.”
People who use the centre will be invited individually by Peterborough City Council and Light Project Peterborough Outreach Workers, rather than Garden House being a drop in centre.
The charity has a good track record. Of the 42 guests who used the Winter Night Shelter last year, 22 are now in accommodation, thanks to partnership working with the City Council. Light Project Peterborough's approach is very much a multi-agency one, although they remain an independent Christian charity funded by small grants and donations from churches and individuals.
Light Project Peterborough Trustee and Cathedral Canon, Ian Black said:
“The medieval abbey which occupied this site would originally have offered alms and support to the poorest people in society. Many people in need naturally gravitate towards the cathedral and it is important for us to be involved in this work. One of our core values is hospitality and we are pleased to be able to show this in this practical way. This is Christianity with its sleeves rolled up.”
The Garden House venture will run for an initial trial period of 6 months. Asked how people can support it, Steven Pettican says, “pray for us. Or you could make a financial donation or run a fundraiser.”
NB: Donations of food or clothing are not needed, thank you.
However, if you would be interested in volunteering, then please email Steven