Harrogate steps up battle to tackle homeless problem

Harrogate Mayor Coun of Nick Brown) and Harrogate Council leader Coun Richard Cooper.
Harrogate Mayor Coun of Nick Brown) and Harrogate Council leader Coun Richard Cooper.

Five people without a home will benefit from this week’s launch of new accomodation at the Harrogate Homeless Project.

Harrogate Mayor Coun Nick Brown formally cut the ribbon on Tuesday to open the extension at Bower Street which has been paid for by Harrogate Borough Council who own the building and let it to the project at peppercorn rent.
It’s the latest step forward by this independent charity which has come a long way since it was set up 20 years ago when 20 young people were discovered sleeping rough in the old Adelphi Hotel on Cold Bath Road.
But the chairman of Harrogate Homeless Project, Geoff Webber said the picture overall was still deteriorating.
“It’s getting worse as the general state of things and the economy worsens. Families tend to break up under stress. There isn’t enough new affordable housing being built never mind social housing.”
Current estimates are that there are now seven to 15 people sleeping rough in Harrogate, though some of these may be by choice.
The new extension will offer a major boost help for homeless people locally.
Geoff Webber said: “The new extension allows us more flexibility for our “No Second Night Out” scheme which provides emergency shelter for the homeless.
“We have a phrase that we’re not giving a hand out but a hand up, so we can get people back to independent living.”
HHP receives financial support from North Yorkshire County County, Harrogate Borough Council and from local councillors’ own budgets such as council leader Coun Richard Cooper.
But Geoff said it still needed to raise £200,000 each year from donations to cover the range of its various activities.
It’s also grateful to local groups who donate food, in particular, to local primary schools at Harvest Festival time and local shops Bookers, Sainsburys and Fodder.
Geoff Webber said: “There are other groups doing great work for homeless people but Harrogate Homeless Project is the only one giving accomodation to people who would otherwise be homeless.”
HHP also operate a day time “drop in” centre called Springboard located at the rear of Wesley Chapel, where homeless and vulnerable people can get a hot dinner and a shower.