Northampton's Hope Centre boss says years of work to help the homeless could be 'trashed' by eviction

Robin Burgess showing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn around the Hope Centre in September last year. The chief executive has spoken out about the charity's eviction from Oasis House today.
Robin Burgess showing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn around the Hope Centre in September last year. The chief executive has spoken out about the charity's eviction from Oasis House today.

The chief executive of a vital day centre for homeless people in Northampton has spoken out for the first time since the charity was given a year to vacate its current home.

On Friday, the Chronicle and Echo revealed that Midland Heart had issued The Hope Centre with an eviction notice to leave its purpose-built premises at Oasis House, Campbell Street.

But since then there has been widespread outrage at the decision, with many fearing the move will greatly impact the homeless population of Northampton.

A petition to save the Hope Centre has gathered 2,000 names in a matter of days.

Chief executive of the charity, Robin Burgess has now broken his silence on the matter, revealing that he is "appalled and saddened" by the decision.

"This decision will have a terrible impact on the poorest and most disadvantaged in our community," he said.

"For them, including the homeless, Hope is a lifeline, the difference between life and death itself.

"Hope does fantastic work, supported and almost entirely funded by the community of Northampton, who in their thousands flock to offer us their time, the donations, their fundraising, their food and their clothes.

"All of this is being thrown aside and trashed by an unwise decision, made, we believe, by a small group of people who simply do not know what we do and the brilliant things we achieve with our service users.

"At this time we simply ask those responsible to think again, to review this decision, and to revoke it, allowing Hope to stay in a building partly funded specifically for our use.

"Our board are in dialogue with those who could revoke it, and we hope that common sense and wise older heads giving good counsel will prevail.

"There is no shame, or loss of face, in re-considering, seeing the harm this will do, and changing your mind."

Several service users past and present have commented on the Change.org petition to express their sadness at the eviction.

"My friends on the street are the ones who are going to suffer," said Julie Rosser.

"The HC (Hope Centre) is the only place they are made to feel normal and part of a family, which is what we are."

Oasis House opened in 2012, providing 48 beds available for the single homeless population, 39 self-contained apartments and a range of homeless support services under one roof.

The Hope Centre runs a day centre there for people in precarious housing situations to get affordable food and housing advice, as well as employment and substance misuse support.

But Midland Heart says it is evicting the charity to make room for more temporary accommodation at the site.

Yesterday, Northampton Borough Council also confirmed that it would look to relocate its rough sleeper nightshelter to Oasis House following the Hope Centre's departure.