Countess of Wessex lends a helping hand

THE Countess of Wessex joined staff and volunteers at Woking’s York Road Project to help pack goody bags for clients in the run-up to Christmas.

The charity, which provides support and accommodation to the homeless, welcomed the Countess to its temporary facility at the HG Wells Conference Centre.

HELPING HAND – The Countess joins Cherisse and Josh Proctor, the York Road Project’s criminal justice navigator, to fill bags with all manner of useful items

Bags packed by the Countess included fruit, snacks, toiletries and the essentials to make hot drinks.

She also took the opportunity to speak with staff and volunteers, and they then prepared the evening meal of curry with naan bread.

At the start of the pandemic, the York Road Project found that the existing night shelter did not comply with COVID-19 guidelines and that the need to accommodate more than 11 clients was evident.

With the support of Woking Borough Council, the charity was able to access the Woking Hotel, which adjoins HG Wells Conference Centre, offering 22 their own room with en-suite facilities, to ensure they did not sleep rough.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – The Countess concentrates on preparing an evening meal

The charity was also able to take in couples and those with dogs.

With the hotel filling within the first week of moving to the premises, it was decided that 10 extra beds could be built in one of the empty halls at HG Wells.

These individual pods, containing a bed, television, table and chairs and access to wifi, were constructed and ready for occupation in only seven days.

The charity had to redesign its service, transforming from an 11-bed shelter to providing accommodation for 32, not including those in move-on accommodation or supported in the wider community in other temporary accommodation.

Cherisse Dealtry, CEO of York Road Project said: “We were honoured The Countess of Wessex joined us as a volunteer.

“It was a real joy to have her helping to cook the evening meal for our clients, and meeting with staff and volunteers to hear their stories.”

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