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Council denies claims homeless charity SHOC was pressured to leave town centre site

Claims that a homeless charity was pressured out of its home last year and that a ‘homeless exclusion zone’ was drawn around the town centre have been denied by Slough Borough Council (SBC).

In November, Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC) moved from it’s town centre day centre in Burlington Road to a smaller site in Whitby Road, owned by St Michael’s Church.

This was part of a deal with SBC who wanted its building back for town centre regeneration, they had also received complaints about anti-social behaviour around the day centre known as Serena Hall. 

SHOC now needs to find a new permanent home before April 11, when its current agreement with St. Michael’s Church expires.

SHOC’S CEO Steve Hedley says he was pressured into signing the agreement  with SBC, in which the charity received £475,000 in return for giving SBC back its site, 18 years in to an 80 year lease.

He said: “They were putting an incredible amount of pressure on us,”

He also said they started getting frequent routine inspections from SBC, which he says was a ‘conspiracy’ to push them out, claiming the routine inspections ‘had not manifested at all in the past 18 years’.

He said: “One way or another they would engineer a way in which they would take the building back.”

SHOC has lost four members of staff since the move and its intake of service users has halved.

Mr Hedley says this is because the service is out of the town centre where many homeless people are based.

“The consequences of moving out of town is reducing people's life chances to get the help and treatment and is extending the time people spend living on the streets,” he added.

The agreement with SBC also included a map showing a red line around the town centre, in which SHOC is now forbidden to find a new site.

Mr Hedley has labelled this a ‘homeless exclusion zone’.

He said: “Any attempt to describe it in any other way is frankly absurd.”

An SBC spokeswoman said: “We are very concerned SHOC has decided to twist the facts of what was an agreement made mutually between them and the council.

“This attempt to paint this as somehow an exclusion zone is scaremongering and ignores the nearly half-a-million pounds they will receive and will benefit their organisation.

“We do wish to mitigate the effects of anti-social behaviour evidenced in the area whilst SHOC was at Serena Hall and protect the town centre and Chalvey area. But this area is not an exclusion zone for homeless people.”

She added that on top of anti-social behaviour complaints, another reason for wanting the building back was for future town centre regeneration.

She says SBC supports and works with numerous organisations to tackle homelessness in the town centre.

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  • be_ transparent

    16:04, 26 January 2018

    Yes SHOC doesn't care that having its centre in the middle of the town was destroying our high street, which has a much bigger impact on Slough residents. Due to a left wing campaign from mainly people who don't even live in Slough it feels emboldened to apply pressure to Slough Council to ask for even more of our money to fund their charity. Frankly I'm astounded to find where half a million pounds of our council tax went, I'd have never have known if it wasn't for this barney going public. I suggest SHOC looks at using volunteers rather than paying £170,000 p.a. in salaries a year according to its accounts.

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    • StationJim

      21:09, 27 January 2018

      SHOC was never in the High street, It was in burlington avenue. It does already use volunteers, some ex users of the facility who come back to help (but they always could do with a helping hand if you are free). It hasn't been given all of the money, And 170k Pa on salaries? How did you get that number?

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      • be_ transparent

        09:09, 28 January 2018

        Burlington avenue is right next door to the high street as you know. The salary details comes from their accounts filed to the charity commission here :- http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends89/0001070689_AC_20160331_E_C.PDF

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