A HOMELESS charity has won the backing of an influential fundraising body for the next two years.

The Swindon Night Shelter has been chosen by Swindon Cares, a group of business owners that together have raised more than £287,000 for local causes since 2003.

The charity has provided temporary accommodation at St Mary’s Church Hall since 2009 and recently moved into council-owned day centre The Haven with the benefit of a three year lease.

Now the council’s winter housing provision has ended The Haven wants to become a night shelter, completing the existing services it provides with partner organisations, from drug and alcohol support, to a cooked breakfast, provided by The Big Breakfast.

Project leader Becky Davison said: “It’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of what we do because we have no regular funding and rely on donations.

“Often we are so busy we don’t have the time to do any fundraising ourselves.

"We continue to have on average 15 -20 guests a night at the shelter in Cheney Manor.

“We have grown but we haven’t grown in all areas. We want a place where we can offer the best possible service for our guests.”

The night shelter team want to offer people living on the streets a closer option to stay overnight at The Haven on Queens Road.

“It is still a bit of a walk from out of town,” she explained.“So we are hoping the day centre will open to become a night shelter as well.”

The charity is also hoping to start a fundraising platform to allow people to become members and donate on a regular basis.

Chairman of Swindon Cares Bill Fisher said Swindon Night Shelter was a relevant and important cause to get behind.

“Homelessness seemed to be something that keeps on coming up to the top of the list,” he said.

“We were blown away by their commitment and dedication to trying to help people is such difficult circumstances.”

Newly appointed high sheriff of Wiltshire David Scott said he will join Wiltshire Police chiefs in sleeping outside during his year-long tenure.

“To experience what it’s like is very important,” he said.“But the most important thing is to raise awareness.

“It’s a big issue and in my year I’m intending to do lots with young people who for whatever reason find themselves becoming homeless.

“I want to work with the charities helping these young people so that they never become a statistic and to tackle it earlier on.”