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Exeter homelessness charity is a finalist for a national award

An Exeter-based homelessness charity has been shortlisted for a high-profile national award, for its essential work to support rough sleepers in the city.

St Petrock’s is one of 17 finalists that fought off competition from almost 4,000 hopeful applicants, to reach the public vote stage in a bid to be crowned National Lottery Project of the Year 2023.

Homelessness has been increasing in Exeter in recent times, with the number of rough sleepers doubling between 2021 and 2022 and continuing to rise.

Twice every weekday, the team walks up to five miles to provide welfare checks and access to a range of essential services at the St Petrock’s Centre. These include: Meals, hot drinks, showers, toilets, washing machines, clothing and sleeping bags. They also facilitate more complex interventions including mental health support, access to healthcare, and help with finding housing and claiming benefits.   

When covid restrictions meant people could not enter the St Petrock’s centre for help, the charity launched its mobile rough sleeper service to take help directly to people who were sleeping rough, or who were likely to become homeless. The approach has proved so effective that it has become a core part of their service.

For over 27 years, St Petrock’s has been a lifeline to people experiencing homelessness in Exeter. The team of 18 full and part-time staff, plus around 30 volunteers, make thousands of contacts each year with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

Peter Stephenson, St Petrock’s Director, said: “By going to people where they are, the mobile team builds up trust and locates people who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

“We are excited that our service has been nominated for a National Lottery Award. Our team works so hard helping those members of our community who have nowhere else to turn, providing food, drinks, survival gear, as well as practical and emotional support and this reflects their dedication and commitment. We have seen a continual rise in the numbers of people in Exeter who are forced to sleep rough, so we very much hope that local people will vote for St Petrock’s so we can continue to change people’s lives for the better.

“For us, being shortlisted is a wonderful recognition for the support our outreach team provides and this news has boosted us all here at St Petrock’s.  However, to win the title of National Lottery Project of the Year would be a remarkable accolade and would undoubtedly help us with fundraising, so we can continue to provide important services at a time when very sadly, the number of people in desperate circumstances continues to rise.”

The public vote opens today (Monday 11 September) for one month, during which time local people will have the opportunity to show their support for St Petrock’s by visiting and casting their vote.  Or by using the Twitter hashtag #NLAStPetrocks. Voting runs from 9am on 11 September until 12pm on 9 October.