The Dover Outreach Centre is now based in what was The Seafarers Centre in Snargate Street which was closed in or about 2009 and has since undergone a transformation (which is ongoing) to provide a base and facilities for rough sleepers.
The original base at the rear of St Paul’s Church was a short-term expedient while a more permanent place was sought. In March 2018, the former Seafarers premises in Snargate Street became a possibility. The original intention was to rent the ground floor only of the premises, but the owners preferred the Centre to take over the whole of the premises and after negotiation the lease started on 2nd April 2019 when possession was taken of the building. In addition to the large ground floor area the building complex has 17 rooms upstairs with a three bedroomed flat, many of the rooms being occupied by East Europeans on tenancies but as rooms become available they have been refurbished and made available for homeless people. Much work was required to be done to the building to make it fit for purpose and much remains to be done but a commissioning service was held on the 11th July 2019 on the ground floor and the Centre opened for operation on 22nd July 2019. Noel Beamish is main driver of the project and he is also Chairman of the Trustees.
The Dover Outreach Centre Trustees, Manager and volunteers make it clear they do not support people to be homeless. The aim is to support people out of homelessness as well as helping people in risk of homelessness. The Centre provides a daily drop-in service. Those attending the Centre complete registration forms and then have access to a simple breakfast, showers, laundry facilities, free telephone, lockers, benefits advice, housing advice, job seeking advice, Food Bank vouchers, medical advice, spare and replacement clothing and much more. The most important thing is that people receive a listening ear, kindness and compassion, delivered in a way that seeks to help them out of homelessness.
Having been in occupation of the building, now known as Victory House, for over a year, 90% of the residential areas have been refurbished and on the ground floor only the old Restaurant area is still in need of revamping. There has been significant work carried out on the services to the building in the last year too which include significant electrical work to bring the building up to modern, acceptable standards, new phone lines, adaptions to the fire detection and CCTV systems. One area that has not been touched other than for a service and Gas Safe Certification is the equipment in the boiler room. As can be seen from the photograph much of this is now old (30 years+). Modern and much more energy efficient gas boilers and associated equipment is available which could save the charity over 30% of its heating and hot water costs.
It is hoped that the Rotary Club of Dover can play a major supporting role to the Centre, hopefully in the provision of new boiler and heating facilities.