Walk-in centre for homeless and vulnerable opens its doors

A new walk-in help and care centre for Leeds’ homeless and most vulnerable is opening its doors on Friday in a call out for volunteers.

The walk-in hub is the latest initiative from Hayden Lee Jessop, a homeless campaigner who has been inspired to help others get a second chance after turning his own life round following a short spell in prison, and local businessman Glen Crosthwaite, who also supports other local charities and hospices.

Hayden founded charitable organisation, Vulnerable Citizen Support which, in partnership with Leeds-based Servo Group, has acquired a 2000 sq ft space in Leeds 12 to set up the walk-in help and care centre. The open day will offer an opportunity for businesses and individuals to offer support,  volunteers to work as outreach workers, man its headquarters, help with its newly set up food bank and tradespeople who can offer time to help.

The company “VCS” launched the city’s first mobile welfare unit in 2019, to offer instant, accessible support to homeless and vulnerable adults in the city centre, and the walk-in centre will offer a permanent site for this assistance, which includes everything from help filling in forms or gaining referrals to finding a safe place for a hot drink and a chat, a place of humanity.

Vulnerable Citizen Support, in partnership with Servo Group, gained full accreditation as a CSC registered company last month, which it hopes will kickstart many of its initiatives to help the most vulnerable and destitute people in Leeds and assist with raising funds.

The centre will offer a wide range of support, from referring and signposting to possible accommodation, help with filling in forms, accessing support for battling addictions and much more. The service is available for all vulnerable people, from the homeless to those facing hardship through poverty, and the hub will include a small café and a secondhand shop for people to engage and share their experiences with a view of helping each other.

It is the latest in a line of initiatives that Vulnerable Citizen Support and Servo have undertaken while completing their registration as a charitable company. VCS’s mobile welfare unit has gone from strength to strength since its launch last year, helping hundreds of vulnerable people on the streets of Leeds. The charity is also building a container home from a shipping container in Armley, suitable to house one person on a detox programme and their pet if they have one, and eventually it will be extended into a camp of eight homes. VCS also goes out around the city centre, helping people living on the streets and the charity accepts referrals from members of the public using its own recently launched app.

Glen Crosthwaite said: “The walk-in centre has been one of our goals for a long-time – it will provide a permanent base for VCS and a place where homeless and vulnerable adults, from single parents to the elderly –  basically anyone struggling for whatever reason, can find us and gain instant, accessible help. We are opening our doors on Friday so people can see what we want to achieve with the centre and so that businesses and individuals can find out some of the ways they can help our initiatives through volunteering, donating time, skills or even clothes or food bank provisions.

Our mobile welfare unit has been a huge success, delivering help to hundreds so far but having a permanent, fixed base will help us spread our reach so much further at a time when homelessness and poverty in Leeds is reaching crisis point.  Now that VCS is a registered CIC charitable organisation, we are in a position to raise funds which will go towards supporting all the initiatives we are delivering.”

The open day takes place on Friday 21 February, between 12 and 3 at VCS Walk In Welfare Centre, Canal Road, Leeds, LS12 2ND.

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