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Basics boxes a big-hearted boost for homeless

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Caring volunteers are helping homeless people to make afresh start by giving them a box of day-to-day basics at a time when they often have little or nothing to call their own.

The boxes - containing a toaster, crockery and other kitchen essentials - are given to arrivals at a Cirencester homeless hostel run by Bromford Support, part of Bromford Group.

These starter packs are a practical response to the plight of people in crisis by the Hope-Cirencester group - and their warm-hearted help is matched by Salvation Army volunteers who donate food parcels to residents in need.

It's only when homeless people arrive at Spring House that Bromford support worker Sarah Stephenson or one of her colleagues really get a chance to find out if customers have the basic equipment needed to make breakfast or other meals.

It's then that support service advisor Margaret Fanstone or another member of the Bromford team will put in a call to Hope-Cirencester chair Kim Hartshorne.

"Sometimes people arrive in a fairly distressed state and with little or nothing in the way of the day-to-day basics of life, "says Margaret.

"It's great to know that we can put in the call knowing that someone will be here the same day with a box containing basic stuff like a kettle, frying pan and washing-up brush.

"It may not sound like much to most of us but if you've just become homeless because of domestic violence or another crisis then it makes all the difference."

Hope-Cirencester volunteers have been delivering the basics boxes for almost a year and members of Cirencester Baptist Church pay for them by making heart-shaped felt, sequin and ribbon decorations and selling them for around £5 apiece at craft fairs and women's events.

Kim says: "We wanted as Christians to do more than talk about helping people in need. We wanted to take action, to do something positive that shows everyone - no matter who they are and regardless of their circumstances - is valuable and important.

"The Baptist ladies enjoy getting together to sew and chat - and get a real sense of satisfaction from knowing that their efforts are helping people into the bargain."

The call from Spring House inevitably means a quick shopping trip for Kim's fellow volunteer, Ruth Poole, who normally delivers the boxes.

Homeless customers also get a boost from local members of the Salvation Army, who have been donating bags of groceries to those in most need since the hostel opened.

Pictured: Hope-Cirencester volunteer Ruth Poole (centre) delivers a basics box to Spring House - and gets a warm welcome from Bromford colleagues Sandra Hodder (left) and Margaret Fanstone (right)