Homeless fundraiser nets just £15.38

ALONE and helpless, the plight of those who are genuinely homeless touches all but the hardest of hearts.However today a nurse who spent all day fundraising in Ipswich for the destitute said when it came to counting the cash raised it amounted to little more than £15.

ALONE and helpless, the plight of those who are genuinely homeless touches all but the hardest of hearts.

However today a nurse who spent all day fundraising in Ipswich for the destitute said when it came to counting the cash raised it amounted to little more than £15.

This paltry total was made all the more embarrassing as £5 of it was donated by a refugee whom the Ipswich PCT homeless team had previously helped to find food and shelter.

The team had manned a stall in the town's Buttermarket to help raise awareness and much-needed cash.

But while many homeless people turned up for help and information, donations were few and far between from shoppers, a far cry from previous fundraisers.

Kathy Cubitt, the health outreach project's team leader and nurse practitioner, said: "We raised a grand total of £15.38 – and £5 was from a refugee whom we had helped get on his feet.

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"We didn't shake collection boxes at people. People looked, saw we were for the homeless, and walked on by."

Mrs Cubitt, 46, emphasised the team is "very grateful for every penny of donation and every support given" and pointed out that the team's previous fund-raising event – a sponsored sleep-out in July – was very successful.

But Mrs Cubitt is disappointed more money was not raised.

Fighting back the tears, she said: "It is obvious that homelessness is not very high on people's agenda. People don't realise there is a problem in Ipswich.

"But if you help people who are homeless, they won't be drawn to drugs and shoplifting and the whole society will benefit.

"People could help by donating food parcels or if they see some socks going for almost nothing, they could pop it into their basket. Something like that would really make a difference.

"Otherwise homeless people have to resort to survival tactics – and resort to drink or drugs - because they are so desperate and because they don't have the support mechanisms we have."

The team has also had difficulty in recruiting.

Mrs Cubitt said: "We have been advertising for a full-time GP on an off since last year - our sessional GP – Dr Christopher Squire – is retired and comes in for two-and-a-half hours a week. But we have had minimal response and nobody suitable.

"Over the last month we have been advertising for a part-time nurse, because we can't afford a full-time one, but we have had no applications so far."

Mrs Cubitt said there are around 15 to 20 people sleeping rough in Ipswich – and many more who are sofa surfers or stay in hostels.

Pointing out that people often become homeless after a "breakdown in relationships", she said: "If we can pick them up within the first four weeks of being homeless there is a chance they can get back into society.

"But if we miss that first four weeks – especially as they can't register with a GP and often don't have family support – many people turn to drink and drugs."

A spokesman for Shelter said there are 238 individuals or families who are homeless in Ipswich, and 2,133 in Suffolk as a whole.

He added: "Most people are concerned about rising house prices or home improvement yet don't realise that this country is facing a housing crisis.

"It's not currently at the forefront of people's minds, unlike health or education - yet there are nearly 200 thousand homeless households languishing in temporary accommodation and millions more in bad housing.

"We need to wake up to the fact that people are suffering and that bad housing is destroying children's futures."

Are we becoming victims of compassion fatigue when asked to donate money to charity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Ipswich Community Resource Centre, 16 Old Foundry Road, Ipswich on Wednesdays from 10.30am to 1pm. You can see Kathy Cubitt, the team's GP or an outreach worker.

The Foyer, Star Lane, Ipswich on Thursdays from 4pm to 6pm. You can see Kathy Cubitt or an outreach worker.

A street clinic held at the soup kitchen, which takes place opposite the Citizens Advice Bureau, Tower Street every evening at 8pm.

Anybody interested in volunteering to donating money should call the team on 01473 275285 or 07966 069852.

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