Give a helping hand to the homeless this Christmas

The Ark - a charity which helps people out if addiction, poverty and homelessness. photo by Derek Martin

The Ark - a charity which helps people out if addiction, poverty and homelessness. photo by Derek Martin

The County Times is pleased to be supporting the Horsham homelessness charity Ark for the paper’s Christmas Campaign this year.

The Ark won the County Times Community Award for Charity of the Year last week for their work supporting people through life’s troubles, including alcohol and drug addictions, poverty, homelessness and repeat offending.

Three days a week, they open the doors of the United Reformed Church in Springfield Road, Horsham, and give people emotional and practical help - and over the next few weeks the newspaper will feature all the aspects of the charity’s work including the Christmas and Boxing Day dinners for around 50 people, education and training, volunteering and work tackling homelessness throughout the year.

Director and co-founder Lisa Burrell, who won the West Sussex County Times Achievement Award last week, said: “Christmas is a wonderful family time for Ark. People have talked about Christmas here being a lifeline. It was very emotional last year when people realised they didn’t have to spend it alone and stay in bed.

“There were a few tears, but it was a privilege to be here and it will be this year.”

They have already had 25 people sign up for Christmas dinner, excluding volunteers, and as the night shelter opens at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church for the first time in Horsham this year, they expect to attract more people who may not have heard the service exists.

James McIlroy, 57, who has epilepsy, is living in a tent in the woods with his seizure alert dog Toby. He came over to the UK from America, but because he does not have local connections, the council does not have to prioritise his case for housing.

He said: “I’ve been coming to Ark since the end of August. They’ve helped me register on the NHS, they gave me clothing, food, hot drinks so I can save my money for things we will need like getting a flat.

“I have a camp stove and the dog keeps my feet warm. Ark gives us eggs, carrots and potatoes so we are able to live.”

Gary Furber, 53, has been homeless for about a year and faces this Christmas in the winter night shelter. His crisis started ten years ago when his marriage broke down.

Desperate, he turned to alcohol and has since had rehabilitation, but he said only at Ark has he found hope to get through his troubles.

Looking at a room of needy people he said: “This is the only place in Horsham that does this. These guys need somewhere to stay.”

The Ark is currently expecting at least 50 people to dinner on Christmas Day and lunch on Boxing Day as well. They share food and presents to make it as much as a ‘family’ occasion as possible.

The charity is asking for donations of food including turkey, potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, alcohol free Christmas puddings, cheese and biscuits, Christmas cake, tea and coffee and non-alcoholic drinks.

Donations of Christmas crackers, napkins, table cloths, decorations as well as financial donations are also welcome.

Gifts can be dropped of at the United Reformed Church in Springfield Road, Horsham at any of the times the charity holds it sessions there: Monday 9am to 3pm, Tuesday 2pm to 8pm and Thursday 9am to 4pm.

For more info about Ark call co-founder Lisa Burrell on 07825 284054 email lisa@thearkhorsham.org.uk

Look out for more information about the Ark in the coming weeks in the County Times.




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