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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Public meeting on hostel plan

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a homeless hostel in Distington are to be the subject of a public meeting.

Rachel Holliday: ‘Homelessness rising throughout the country’

Opinions have been divided since The Whitehaven News last week revealed proposals for a hostel, which could house between 10 and 14 people, including newly-released prisoners.

In response, the project Time To Change, which drew up the business plan, is holding a meeting for people to raise concerns and ask questions on September 6 (7pm) at Distington Community Centre.

The hostel is the idea of director Rachel Holliday, 33, who was homeless as a teenager, and now works for Cumbria Action for Social Support (CASS).

Time to Change is working with Whitehaven Community Trust to find a suitable venue in the village. A venue has not yet been found.

People will be referred through Copeland and Allerdale councils, Durham and Low Newton Prisons, private landlords and other agencies and services, such as Citizens Advice Bureau.

Ms Holliday has visited three residents this week to reassure them the majority of referrals will be from the Copeland and Allerdale homeless departments.

“There will be no sex offenders or anyone deemed a risk to the public,” she said.

Rooms would be open from 6pm to 9am but locked during the day for unpaid and voluntary community work. “The project is for West Cumbrians only who have fallen on hard times,” she said.

She added she is “overwhelmed” by support, including from people wanting to volunteer. The Francis C Scott Fund has encouraged her to apply for its funding.

She added: “I understand why some residents of Distington will be worried. All I ask is to listen to what I have to say. The hostel doesn’t have to be Distington. It just needs to be in West Cumbria, but it does need to happen wherever it is. If the local people don’t want it, it won’t happen, but if the residents are at the heart it will achieve the best results, for the residents and the community.”

The plans have been backed by Whitehaven Job Centre. It has also been discussed by Distington Parish Council – although its not formally being asked for its opinion at this stage.

The council was divided in its views, said chairman John Bowman, who added that a presentation from Ms Holliday addressed a number of the concerns raised.

People can email rachel.holliday@ ttcwestcumbria.org or visit www.ttcwestcumbria.org.

Have your say

after reading articles about the hostel coming to distington I am totally against the idea . this villiage is far to small to deal with this project if the house is closed or full were do these people go next.at least if they are in towns there may be an alternative at short notice without causing any disruption to the general public. also the double house that the lovely Rachel has looked at just happens to on the door step of my elderly parents bungalow who I do not want disturbed in their elderly years do they not now deserve a quiet life after working all their lives good luck with your project Rachel but not in distington.

Posted by nick george on 28 August 2013 at 09:44

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