The Four Streets Project in Chichester was founded in early 2016 when Donna Ockenden and her two daughters moved to live in the heart of Chichester. They couldn’t walk by and see homeless and hungry people on the streets of Chichester without doing something. Their work was formalised at the beginning of 2017 when they were joined by a number of like minded local residents and The Four Streets Project was officially ‘born.’
Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 – the start of the Four Streets Projects 5th year of operation. There are now around 35 local volunteers and since the beginning of 2017 this amazing team of volunteers led by Donna have never missed a night.
With the Coronavirus situation becoming more serious in February the volunteers first introduced enhanced hygiene procedures but soon this was not enough. In early March it was clear that a completely new approach would be needed in order that volunteers and the homeless were kept safe and The Four Streets Project could maintain its commitment to ‘never missing a night.’
The Four Streets Project has always had a very good relationship with all of the churches across Chichester although it is not a church or faith based group. St Pancras Church was also looking at how it could safely operate their regular ‘breakfast club’ ensuring that all Government safety guidance around hygiene and social distancing was adhered to. Ideas were pooled & in the 2nd week of March The Four Streets Project started a 7 day a week, socially distanced and take away hot supper club for the homeless & vulnerable based at St Pancras Church.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic the Four Streets Project has operated every night from St Pancras Church and fed increasing numbers of hungry and vulnerable people. On a typical night we now expect to see 30 or more people needing a hot takeaway dinner. We have had to quickly adapt our processes on an ongoing basis because so many of our long term suppliers have had to close their doors. However our volunteers are a fabulous team who adapt to change quickly and are incredibly proud of everything we do….
A silver lining in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis?
When Lockdown loomed our first thoughts were probably not with the homeless and rough sleepers of West Sussex, left without the support systems they would normally rely on to survive. But thanks to the combined efforts of local councils and charities there has been a wonderful silver lining. Every rough sleeper has been given the opportunity of a place to stay, access to healthcare, companionship, advice and three meals a day whilst continuing to observe the social distancing rules.
Chichester charity’s website launches with £2000 donation
The Four Streets Project has launched its new website. The website launch kickstarted with a donation from Chichester City Council of £2,000.00. Winter survival kits were purchased using £1,800.00 of the donation and the remainder was added to other donations to buy 19 homeless people new boots.
Chichester homeless charity Stonepillow has announced it will re-open its hub to its original hours for three months. In April Stonepillow began closing their Chichester day centre on weekends due to funding cuts but have now announced it will once again provide its seven-days-a-week service. Funding from Chichester District Council will allow the reopening for three months from January 4 to March.
The Four Streets Project team have launched on Twitter! Widening their reach via social media the charity are continuing to raise awareness to help support homeless people in Chichester. Linking with local people, businesses and the media along with national charities, the account hopes to build a following which will assist in making positive change over the coming months.
The Four Streets Project Community Coat Rack is still up and running – and has reached the point where only children’s coats are needed. Please help us ensure no child is cold through lack of a coat this winter/ Christmas. The team wish to thank the fabulous people of Chichester, and all the great schools supporting the work of volunteers of The Four Streets Project who run the Chichester Community Coat Rack each year.
The community coat rack appeal is an annual initiative set up to help struggling members of the Chichester community during the winter months by giving them a warm winter coat free of charge. The scheme was set up four years ago by Donna Ockenden of the The Four Streets Project in partnership with the Chichester Observer and Chichester City Council. On November 16th the Four Streets Project volunteers met outside the Assembly Rooms in North Street for the coat racks official launch. Passers-by donated coats and members of the community in need were able to take one.
Donna Ockenden and The Four Streets Project are now working with Grandad’s Front Room CIC (Community Interest Company) in Bognor Regis. Grandad’s Front Room was set up in 2016 and they have spent the last three years working to help tackle numerous social issues in the Bognor Regis area. The not for profit charity operates with the sole intention of helping others who need help, for free.
A Chichester primary school contacted Donna Ockenden in her role as founder of The Four Streets Project in order to help prepare vital supplies for members of Chichester’s homeless community. Staff at Midhurst C of E Primary School decided it was important to shed some light on members of society who live in different circumstances. Pupils collected items such as soaps and toothbrushes to create hygiene boxes for the homeless community. Donna said “It was really heart-warming that such young children made such a lot of effort to support some of the most vulnerable people in our city. They are a credit to their school, to their families and to their communities.”
Chichester businesses, members of the public and volunteers all work together every week to help look after the homeless in the city. The support Donna Ockenden and her charity have received has helped The Four Streets Project to grow. Companies including Fenwick’s Cafe in Priory Park Purchases Restaurant in North Street and LA Fish in The Hornet donate food to the charity. The staff at Q Hair and Beauty in Chichester have been rallying round to help the homeless by buying essential toiletries for them. Mayor of the city, Cllr Richard Plowman said: “The Chichester community is great. When a call for help comes out from a charity like the Four Street Project there is no hesitation and local shops have stepped forward immediately so many thanks from all of us”