FUNDING: Councillor's last ditch bid for homeless unit

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A DETERMINED councillor is making a last minute effort to secure funding that may save Peterborough's only centre for the homeless from closure.

A DETERMINED councillor is making a last minute effort to secure funding that may save Peterborough's only centre for the homeless from closure.Cllr Darren Fower is appealing to Peterborough City Council to stump up 50,000 to ensure the future of St Theresa's Day Care Centre, in Manor House Street.

In May, heart-broken fund-raising manager Mark Overland revealed the centre only had enough money to remain open until September 30.

If it is forced to close, 10 workers will be left unemployed.

The news has motivated Cllr Fower, Liberal Democrat councillor for south Werrington and north Gunthorpe, to table a motion for discussion at tomorrow's full council meeting.

Cllr Fower said: "St Theresa's looks after 700 of our most vulnerable people, many of whom have serious mental health issues, but have fallen through the usual safety nets.

"These people matter because they are human beings.

"The centre prepares more than 100 meals a day for homeless and elderly people across the city.

"It presently gets around 19,000 per annum from the council – less than it costs to run the Mayor's car!

"This cannot be right in a so-called civil society?"

Cllr Fower is asking the council to agree to vary the revenue budget for 2005–2006 by reallocating 50,000 from the corporate contingency fund to provide additional financial support for St Theresa's.

This money will have to be farmed out by September.

Mr Overland said: "I wish Darren every luck in his bid to save the centre – it's good to see a councillor fighting for our cause.

"The closing date has been announced, and we will soon have to start thinking about redundancies.

"We have five full-time and five part-time staff at the centre. At the beginning of next month, they will learn they are going to lose their jobs.

"It is a devastating situation."

The council meeting takes place tomorrow 7.30pm.

St Theresa's can help city to resettle ex-convicts

ST Theresa's Day Care Centre could prove to be vital to Peterborough, especially since the opening of the prison in the city, centre staff claim.

The centre, in Manor House Street, could offer a settlement service to help offenders, who are released from HMP Peterborough.

Mark Overland, fund-raising manager for the centre said: "People who are released from prison may not have a home to go to or a supportive family network.

"We can collect them from the prison and work with them immediately, reducing the risk of their re-offending.

"We are hoping the prison will fund the project, because having a jail in Peterborough will increase the numbers of people through our doors."