A HOMELESS shelter in Leamington could have found a permanent new home.
Leamington Winter Service – known as LWS Night Shelter – operates from The Priors Club in Tower Street, but the former social club is set to be demolished.
The service is now hoping to relocate to the former Old Italian Club in Packington Place off High Street, and council chiefs are supporting the move.
Warwick District Council has pledged to make a planning application for a change of use for the long derelict building to accommodate homeless people, and if successful, will also give up to £50,000 towards conversion and refurbishment costs.
LWS Night Shelter – which provides food for around 40 people and bed space for some 20 to 30 people on Friday and Saturday nights – was set up in 2016 by Susan Rutherford and Vishal Chauhan, and has seen a rise in people using the service over the past year.
The shelter team has been crowdfunding to raise the £60,000 necessary to relocate and keep the service running from a permanent home, with donations of more than £27,000 received to date..
Shelter directors Susan Rutherford and Jazz Singh said: “We are thrilled to have the support of Warwick District Council in making the old Italian Club the premises for our night shelter.
“Homelessness is a major issue in Leamington, which is very much felt by the local community, and we are extremely pleased to be working together with the council to tackle this issue.
“We thank them enormously for their generous financial contribution.”
Labour councillor Kristie Naimo – who represents the Brunswick ward – welcomed the news.
She told The Observer: “For the past 12 months we have been working with directors at LWS and council officers to identify a suitable premises and support the move to this new location. We’re pleased to see the council is genuinely committed to helping by now offering funds and planning support.”
“As well as providing support for rough sleepers, this will hopefully bring a building back into use that has been derelict for over 20 years.”
Coun Naimo added while the latest official head count for those sleeping rough in Leamington on a daily basis was 21, unofficially the number was around 35.
Search LWS Night Shelter on Facebook to find out more.