A Gateshead homelessness charity can offer a warm welcome to rough sleepers after Newcastle Building Society stepped in with £3,000 to replace a broken boiler.

Oasis Community Housing moved its Basis@Gateshead drop-in centre to Progress House on Warwick Street last year and offers practical help to people who are rough sleeping or in housing crisis.

As well as hot drinks, showers and laundry facilities, the drop-in has a team of staff experienced in offering practical and emotional support to help people into housing.

As the cold weather arrived last winter, one of the centre’s two boilers broke down, leading to concerns that the building could have to close if the other stopped working and so threatening the work of the drop-in.

After being nominated by Christine Carruthers, a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Trinity Square branch in Gateshead, and a relationship manager with the charity, a £3,000 grant has been given by the Society to pay for the installation of a new boiler.

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

Oasis Community Housing is one of the main providers of homelessness services in the North East and offers the only open access drop-in centre for anyone facing homelessness in Gateshead and surrounding areas.

More than 630 people found help via the drop-in centre during its last financial year, and staff work closely with Gateshead Council to ensure they provide a joined-up response to individuals’ particular needs.

Phil Conn, head of crisis services, said: “As a starting point, Basis@Gateshead provides people who are sleeping rough with the chance to get warm, clean and fed, but it can also make a much greater and longer-lasting positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“The annual running costs for the drop-in centre are around £140,000 and demand for our services is growing year-on-year, as people with complex needs turn to us for support.

“There’s never a shortage of things on which we can spend our money, and getting this sort of generous backing from Newcastle Building Society means we can direct funds that we would otherwise have had to spend on the boiler towards other priority projects.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £320,000 in grants to projects across the Society’s North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 129,000 people.

Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.  Larger grants of up to £50,000 are also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.

Dale Barclay, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Gateshead branch, adds: “Basis@Gateshead is a real beacon of hope for local people facing situations that most of us will be lucky enough not to have to confront.

“Its invaluable work matches our own commitment to giving back to the communities in which we’re based, and we’re very pleased to be able to step in and help resolve this pressing problem.”

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.