First Hub for the Homeless in Poole

3rd Feb 2020

Routes to Roots has announced that it is well on its way to achieving its dream of establishing a hub for the homeless and vulnerably housed in Poole. 

The charity has purchased the former Hill Street Baptist Church, the Poole town centre building that housed R2R’s first drop-in sessions.

Since 2002 the charity has worked from the United Reformed Church in Skinner Street, Poole, where they have a small office with access to a hall and kitchen for the five drop-ins. In 2018, they added the fifth drop-in and established a fortnightly Sunday lunch. Unfortunately, because of use of the church hall by other organisations, they are limited on the days and times that they can be open (typically 90 minutes in the evening and 3 hours in the daytime). In Poole there is no Sleepsafe programme to take rough sleepers off the streets during winter and the only provision for them is SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol), which provides rough sleepers with sleeping accommodation on nights when the temperature is below zero for three consecutive days.  

A key action over the last few years has been for the charity to get on a sound financial footing so it was in a position to explore every opportunity to find its own space in order to expand its services. It has been able to fund the purchase of the church both from its own funds and a donation from Talbot Village Trust. 

Substantial refurbishment is needed to make the premises fit for purpose, before the charity can move in, hopefully in by September 2020. R2R is seeking financial support for essential renovations, which will include more efficient heating, a kitchen, toilets, showers and laundry facilities.

After moving to Hill Street, in the short-term R2R will maintain its existing services and add a weekly Sunday lunch. Looking further ahead, as funding and volunteer support permit, they aim to be open seven days a week and increase the outreach services offered to include financial advice, training and other opportunities to help clients move back into the community – to become a one-stop place of change.

Revd Pat Southgate, Chair and Founder of R2R says: “I am really proud of what all our volunteers and supporters have enabled us to achieve over the years. This is the result of all their faith in us and is a long-held dream come true. We are very grateful to Skinner Street URC for welcoming us for so many years and making us a part of their community. While very excited, this is a tremendous commitment for the charity and we will need all the support that Poole churches, organisations, businesses and individuals can continue to give us to make Hill Street Baptist Church a real Place of Change in Poole.”

Russell Lucas-Rowe, Trustee at Talbot Village Trust, says: “We are very pleased to have helped Routes to Roots expand their reach and services. The work they have been doing helping the rough sleepers for the last 20 years is very valuable to this community. We hope that, thanks to the funding, they will be able to help many more around Poole.”

The Patron of the charity, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne comments: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Routes to Roots to take their work to another level and affirms the commitment of the charity in its aims to alleviate homelessness. Further financial help is needed now to fulfil our vision. Please consider giving generously, knowing that every gift will give hope to those most in need of it.”