North Herts Sanctuary announces plans to continue support amid service changes

North Herts Sanctuary building

Helping Herts Homeless, which owns the North Herts Sanctuary building in Hitchin, has confirmed it will continue to run the building after Haven First's contract ends - Credit: Helping Herts Homeless

North Herts Sanctuary in Hitchin, which is owned by Helping Herts Homeless, is set to launch a major fundraising campaign, new leadership structure and make changes to the building.

The sanctuary in Nightingale Road, which provides ‘move on’ accommodation to homeless men, is in need of extensive modernisation.

Helping Herts Homeless is a registered charity operated by volunteers with day-to-day services provided by a contractor, Stevenage-based Haven First.

Following the approval of Haven First's application to create a purpose-built homeless provision in Letchworth, its agreement with HHH will be withdrawn at the end of this year, potentially leaving the Nightingale Road site building empty.

This has led HHH to reconsider its purpose, and take radical action to determine its future.

A HHH board of trustees meeting earlier this month determined that the charity would continue to operate the North Herts Sanctuary - subject to raising funds to redevelop it.

A project Is now under way to establish what needs to be done, how it can be done, and how to fund it. It will require a major fundraising campaign.

Recently appointed interim chair Shelley Hugill said: "The Hitchin community has always been generous in its support for the sanctuary, and early indications are that this news will be widely welcomed."

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Shelley will be both overseeing the building project, and introducing new ways of operating for the volunteers who work with HHH. A new leadership structure will be put in place in due course.

Among these changes is the introduction of ‘Friends of Helping Herts Homeless’.

Shelley said: "There will be no charge, and we will not ask them to commit to becoming volunteers.

"We will ask only that they give us permission to let them know what we are doing. To that end, a system of communication will be put in place.

"We will welcome corporate Friends, too. HHH needs some additional volunteers right now to help set this up!"

The changes to the building and to the governance and operational structure will be rolled out over the next three to four months.

The timescale for this will depend on HHH’s ability to recruit additional volunteers.

To find out more about Helping Herts Homeless, go to helpinghertshomeless.org.uk.