Homeless people in Stoke-on-Trent have received an early Christmas present with the news that a new lease is being finalised for a major accommodation shelter.
The Macari Centre, situated on Regent Road in Hanley, opened in February 2016 after former Stoke City manager Lou Macari made it his mission to get rough sleepers off the streets.
And the success of Macari’s work, which has already won many accolades and awards, has convinced city council leaders to give the centre long-term security.
It is intended that a five-year lease extension will also enable Lou and his advisors to apply for registered provider status – opening the door for applications for additional funding.
Macari, who is also scouring the outskirts of the city centre for a move to an alternative building as the present site has been earmarked for housing, said: “We are delighted the city council has recognised the work we do.
“I will certainly sleep better knowing the future of the centre is secured. Of course, it’s also great news for our staff and most importantly our residents.
“On behalf of us all, I would like to convey a massive thank you to city council leader Abi Brown and councillor Randy Conteh for making this happen. The support we have received from them has been vital.
“Former city council leader Dave Conway was instrumental in getting the centre opened in the first place. Without Dave we would never have got anywhere.
“With the new lease we can really push on with our help for the homeless. We started off sheltering 18 people and now we are packed to capacity with 48. Looking after homeless people can be very difficult, but it can also be very rewarding when they make progress and leave us.
“We are doing fine in terms of funds because the people of Stoke-on-Trent have been incredibly generous. Loads of organisations have raised money for us and individuals also send us donations. It’s overwhelming at times.
“This time of year we receive more than ever, with clothes and food coming from everywhere. The people of this city made it happen and a larger building will be most welcome for the people who stay with us.”
Council leader Abi Brown said: “The success of the Macari Centre is down to the hard work and campaigning by Lou and his team – their efforts deserve much credit. Extending the lease will enable Lou and his team to complete the work they need to apply to the government for registered provider status – this will be really important in helping to secure the future of the centre for years to come.
“We are really pleased to be able to support the centre in this way and hope that its good work can continue.”
Councillor Randy Conteh, cabinet member for communities and safer city, said: “Lou continues to be a tireless campaigner for local people and the facility being offered by the Macari Centre is impressive. We work hard to support services that help homeless people, not just with immediate and short-term shelter, but longer term support to help to address underlying and complex issues that contribute to people being in this position.”
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