Our Rotary club has announced a £1,000 donation to the Shrewsbury Ark. The promise of funding follows a visit to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by Ark trustee and chair Emily Bell.
On her visit she said funds were urgently needed to fully equip their new premises and she subsequently referred specifically to laptops, mobile phones and sleeping bags. These, she said, would be ‘greatly appreciated’ by clients. Emily spoke of a ‘big spectrum’ of homelessness with thousands of homeless people in Shropshire. About 20 on and off rough sleepers used The Ark, but there were a lot of homeless people in temporary accommodation.
“There is no statutory or government funding and these people rely on donations.” She spoke of The Ark experiencing an upsurge in homelessness and poverty at the present time and she said a GP clinic, which started at the Prince Rupert Hotel, was being run in conjunction with the Riverside Medical Practice. “This is unbelievably important for people sleeping rough in this town,” said Emily. “Really good health care is so helpful.”
She said when The Ark heard that the Rock & Fountain was available to buy, ‘we leapt at the chance’. “We bought it outright, but took out a big loan to do the refurbishment. It is fabulous for us. It has 10 times the amount of floor space we used to have when we were opposite the station.” The Ark moved in in February with up to 50 people visiting each day and the need was growing. Every month over 100 people registered for help and advice – 50 of those for the first time. She said there would be more drug users with hepatitis were it not for The Ark.
“We don’t have any accommodation,” Emily told Rotarians. “It is something we may have 10 years down the line and we are talking about that. There is so much potential.” She told Rotarians: “We do everything on social media,” adding that the Ark relied on 50 award winning volunteers, two of whom were going to a Royal garden party this year. “Without them we couldn’t open,” Emily added.