The Winchester Beacon has been providing vital and safe temporary accommodation to people experiencing homelessness in Hampshire for more than 30 years. As well as providing a safe place to stay, it gives each resident the opportunity to access personalised one-to-one support to help them navigate their way out of homelessness.

The Winchester Beacon accommodates 10 people at its main site in the centre of Winchester, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and in three off-site properties, accommodates an additional 12 people on their route to independent living.

CEO Michèle Price says: “The majority of people we support are coping with multiple disadvantages and we take a trauma informed approach to our support. All residents can access free counselling, psychotherapy, addiction support, employment advice, tenancy training, budgeting support and more. A programme of sporting and recreational activities also gives residents to chance to build their self-esteem and confidence.

Our support continues once residents move on. We regularly check in with past residents to make sure they are coping and to offer support if they need it. Former residents are able to continue to access our range of support including counselling.”

However, the pandemic impacted both the organisation’s finances and operations, as Michèle explains:

“Over the past 30 years we have managed to gradually increase donations at the same time as supporting thousands of people off the street. The pandemic meant that overnight we had to open for residents and operate 24/7 so that residents could stay home and stay safe. The crisis meant we had to reduce numbers on site to avoid shared air space in bedrooms. Our response to the pandemic resulted in our income for 2021-2022 reducing considerably whilst our costs increased.”

The Winchester Beacon was awarded a total of £45,000, over three years from the HIWCF Including Communities Fund and the NHS Health & Wellbeing Flow-Through Fund to help bolster their fundraising capacity and to support more vulnerable people in Hampshire.

“This grant has helped us to recruit a much-needed fundraiser at a time when there is an increasing demand for our services as well as rising running costs. We hope to be able to better connect with existing and new supporters in the local community and grow support for our vital work with people experiencing homelessness.”

A Winchester Beacon resident, Mike found himself homeless after his relationship broke down. Having struggled with his mental and physical health he arrived at The Winchester Beacon feeling low. During his stay, Mike accessed the free counselling service and opened up about his challenges for the first time and with the guidance and help of his Support Worker, Mike eventually secured long-term accommodation.

Mike said: “I walk in the flat, sit down and just cannot believe it is mine, I think I am visiting someone. I keep thinking someone is going to come and take the keys. I am so relieved to make the first step back in life again. The Beacon has helped me an awful lot, it is a good place.”