KIND-HEARTED volunteers collected more than £1,000 for a homeless charity in Cirencester and have also announced the organisation's priorities for the upcoming year.

Cirencester Signpost trustees have seen an increase in homelessness over the last few months and plan to prioritise the organisation's responsiveness, accessibility and inclusivity in 2024.

The charity provides those in need with hot meals every Tuesday and Saturday in Ashcroft Church in Cirencester but takes a holistic approach to tackling homelessness.

In the new year the volunteers at the charity have committed to being available at times when other agencies are closed such as in the evening and during weekends.  

They also want to make sure homeless people have access to toiletries, laundry facilities, a haircut and a support plan.

The charity's 2024 charter was initiated to coincide with their annual street collection, where collectors raised £1,176 in Cirencester's town centre on Saturday, November 18.

Charity founders Graham and Juliette Harris said: "The amount raised was well beyond our expectations and we are hugely grateful to the community for their support.  

"These funds will enable us to put on a meal on Christmas day for the homeless at The Bothy in Ashcroft Road and will go a long way to achieving our aims to make a lasting, positive difference.

"Since we became a charity, we have seen big steps forward with agencies working positively together to help the homeless get their lives back on track. 

"The biggest challenges currently are the lack of out of hours emergency provision to accommodate a homeless person overnight and the sheer demand for mental health services.

"The biggest lesson we have learnt this year is the importance of having an ongoing awareness of the experience of those finding themselves homeless and our responsibility to remain flexible and responsive to the changing dynamics.

"One way Cirencester residents can help homeless people in the area is by being a friend. 

"A good first step is to ask their name and whether they need a hot drink or something to eat."