A NEW charity has joined forces with housing chiefs in a bid to tackle homelessness in the New Forest.

The Crossings is based at St John's Church, Hythe, which hosts twice-weekly drop-in sessions for people who are homeless or in danger of losing their accommodation.

Volunteers offer what the charity describes as a welcoming and safe place to talk, plus hot refreshments and free Wi-Fi.

The charity also runs a drop-in service at Hythe Job Centre Plus for people who need help searching for a job or applying for Universal Credit and other benefits.

New Forest Post:

The New Forest is generally regarded as one of the most affluent parts of the south but the district suffers from a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

Sky-high property prices and huge rents can make it difficult for people to keep a roof over their heads.

Project leader Andrew Clarke said The Crossings aimed to offer hope to people who were sofa-surfing, living in emergency accommodation or sleeping rough.

He added: "For those most immediately in need it's a welcoming place to talk as well as having a hot drink and a snack. There’s free Wi-Fi, use of a laptop, phone-charging facilities and somewhere to wash.

For some the most relevant help is assistance in filling in forms, getting online to apply for benefits and getting back into accommodation."

New Forest Post:

The Crossings is working in partnership with New Forest District Council (NFDC).

Mr Clarke added: "One story of hope is that of a client who had slept rough in the Forest for the best part of this year.

"His situation took a while to resolve but working with the housing team at NFDC, Waterside Foodbank and others we supported him through an uncertain time.

"It looked as if it might be spring at the earliest before he had a chance of being housed but the council has been able to secure him a place.

"Hope for the future was written all over his face as he shared the news of his new home with us."

The Crossings is always on the look-out for more volunteers.

Mr Clarke said: "Computer skills or just a listening ear could make a real difference to someone. All our volunteers receive on-going training and support."

The drop-in sessions at the church take place between 11am and 1pm on Wednesdays and between 10am and 12.15pm on Saturdays.

The service at Hythe Job Centre Plus is available between 1.30pm and 3pm on Wednesdays.