St Peter’s provides new home for homeless charity in Woolwich

In 2017, the grassroots charity, Woolwich Service Users Project (WSUP), found itself looking for a new home. The number of homeless people and recovering addicts using its drop in centre had grown by 300% over the previous year, due largely to regeneration plans for a local housing estate.

Those same regeneration plans saw WSUP’s existing centre put forward for redevelopment and the charity itself was faced with the plight of homelessness.

Until, that is, a partnership between St Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church and the Royal Borough of Greenwich recently found a way to keep the vital, grass roots charity going and provide it with a new, long-term home.

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St Peter’s the Apostle - the first Pugin Church in London (and one of only three) - has offered the charity a part-derelict, former infant school building on the church estate at a peppercorn rent for 10 years.In exchange, with funding from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Allchurches Trust, local businesses, the community and a range of other sources, WSUP will undertake capital works and repairs to enable the building to be brought back into community use.

The Brookhill Building is a Grade II listed and historically significant building in its own right and sited next to St Peter’s Church in the very heart of Woolwich. Once works are complete, it will become a centre for community care, offering counselling, meditation and yoga sessions alongside WSUP’s drop in centre.

WSUP currently operates two days a week, serving 70 to 80 people each day. It provides laundry facilities and washing, hot showers, haircuts, a clothing bank, activities, games, companionship, and hot meals and drinks for anyone who needs them. Most of all, WSUP provides a sense of community, friendship, safety and care.

One guest said: “This place is magic because there’s nowhere else to go … They help you out when you come here with food and it’s a nice place to meet, to chat. The staff are really nice ... they remember me. That’s really nice. Without this place lots of people wouldn’t survive.”

With its new home in the grounds of St Peter’s the Apostle, WSUP is planning to open on a third day each week for the 3640 people it serves every year and to cope with increasing demand.

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