The Streetwise drop-in was set up in March 2010, so we are about to celebrate our 8th birthday! We provide a welcoming environment, food, clothing and support to some of the most vulnerable adults in Leeds. We are currently based in The Hub, at the top of Dewsbury Road, and open every Thursday evening for around an hour and a half.
We currently prepare 100 hot meals each week, feeding around 40-50 people, as well as organising a large Christmas party every year with gifts and entertainment, for 80+ guests (see photo). At the end of each night we provide clothing, hygiene products, underwear, food parcels (when available) and winter warmth items like hats, scarves, gloves, thermals and blankets / sleeping bags. We also have an in-house physiotherapist and paramedics who provide a drop-in service for any of our guests who need medical attention. We aim to signpost people on to other services to get longer-term support, with issues like housing, mental health and addiction and we send a team into Leeds city centre to distribute hot food packs and clothes to people who can’t make it to the venue.
We are always aiming to increase our links with other services in the city, and we will be engaging with the Leeds Homeless Charter, that is being set up to bring people with lived experience of homelessness together with agencies, to tackle some of the issues that lead to homelessness.
Some of our guests are sleeping on the streets, while others are in unstable or unsuitable accommodation; staying in hostels or sofa surfing. Many have low income, and struggle to meet their basic needs of food, warmth and clothes. We see several people who destitute asylum seekers, who have no access to benefits and no right to work. Others, who are experiencing isolation, benefit from the strong sense of community created at the drop-in. Living life on the streets, or struggling to make ends meet, can be incredibly tough and having access to a consistent, friendly and safe environment, where people are treated with respect and dignity, can make a big difference to individual’s lives.
We are able to run because of a wonderful team of around 15 – 20 dedicated volunteers. One of our guests, who now volunteers with us said: ‘I enjoy being a part of Streetwise, as I have time on my hands. All of the volunteers are great and as a guest, they all helped me. Now I can give something back to help others.
We would use the money from the Fund to put towards our Winter Warmth project for next winter. We would also love to be able to buy our own pool and table tennis tables, to increase the social aspect of the drop-in. These activities are a great way of increasing the interaction between our guests and volunteers, as it is something that overcomes barriers, like language, and gives people the chance to have fun and switch off for a while from the stresses they are facing in their daily lives.
This post was written using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.