AFTER an overwhelming response last year, the Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP) in Basingstoke and Deane has once again launched its Real Change Not Loose Change campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of homelessness in the borough and how people can support efforts to reduce it.

Once again the SIP is asking residents to dig deep and make a ‘real change’ to someone’s life.

Donations will go towards running the Night Light winter shelter, which aims to give rough sleepers shelter for the night. a continuation of the third day opening at the Camrose Day Centre and, new for this year, providing safe storage for people sleeping rough to keep their personal possessions in.

Chair of the SIP and deputy leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Councillor Terri Reid, told The Gazette the group has learnt from last year and is being more daring in its attempts to raise awareness.

Cllr Reid said: “We were overwhelmed but not surprised by the support and compassion to help those people sleeping on the borough’s streets through the Real Change campaign.

“With it being the first year last year we were a bit nervous as to how people would perceive it, but because the people of Basingstoke have shown they want to help, we want to be more ambitious in the amount we raise and help more people.

“The message we want to get across is that this could potentially happen to anyone, and that there are the services available to help vulnerable people.

“Together we can help make a difference and improve the lives of more people who have, for whatever reason, found themselves in the traumatic and deeply saddening situation where they are living on the streets”

This year’s campaign aims to raise £16,180, which will be distributed between churches who run the Night Light winter shelter, the Camrose Centre and Julian House storage solutions.

In November 2016 an official count estimated 26 people were sleeping on the borough’s streets at any one time, with statistics saying people are three paychecks away from being on the streets.

The SIP has said residents and businesses can help make a real difference by giving spare change or time to provide the right support to those who need it most.

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