A one-stop facility for homeless and vulnerable people to get all the help they need is now fully up and running in Central Milton Keynes.
The Unity Park Station building, formerly known as the Buszy, is run by the Winter Night Shelter project and houses 17 different organisations and charities providing help and support for everything from drug addiction to fresh clothing.
This week the project launched the "final piece of the puzzle", the Unity Park Community Club. This is a free weekly session for anybody needing support in any area of their life.
It is estimated more than 250 people a week will benefit. These will include anyone who feels vulnerable, anyone experiencing poverty, anyone with mental health needs and anyone who is homeless, vulnerably housed, or for whom homelessness may become possible.
The weekly club will provide a free lunch, a listening ear and a sympathetic assessment followed by emergency provision and help from a crisis support team where needed.
Throughout the building, people will have access to specialist help groups including the Samaritans, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Arts for Health Milton Keynes, MK Citizens Advice, Mind Space, The Mix, The Food Bank, MK Storehouse, Smart, Milton Keynes Council, and Talent Unlimited.
Between them, they can provide help for issues of debt, mental health, addiction, homelessness and insecure accommodation, isolation and lack of opportunity.
On a practical note, there is also a hairdresser and barber on site, specialist workshops, a pop up charity shop, leisure activities and English speaking classes.
Sara Millington, from Winter Night Shelter, said Unity Park Station transforms the Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes from being a sticking plaster on the problem of homelessness in the city to being part of the prevention of it.
"We are just one piece of the puzzle, and by opening up this facility to many other organisations who seek to help people we hope it will have an impact on the problems and challenges people face which pave the path to homelessness," she said.
The new community club will open next Tuesday, October 8, and will run every Tuesday afterwards from 10am to 1pm.
A new website has been launched to showcase services on offer so people in need of help can see how to access them. You can access it here.
Sarah added: "Unity Park Station aims to be a place of welcome, where anyone struggling with life can find support and direction for the way ahead.
"Whilst the Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes is there to support people at a point of crisis, either already rough sleeping or on the brink of it, Unity Park Station aims to combat the problems and vulnerabilities that can lead people on a path to homelessness. We combat homelessness by allowing people to access support for their struggles and by showing them what options are available to them, to stop a problem becoming a crisis."