A SWINDON strong man has thrown his weight behind the Night Shelter, which welcomed its first guests last night for the council’s winter housing scheme.
The charity-run shelter on Queens Drive opened its doors to six guests last night. It was helped along with a large donation of warm winter clothing from KCJ Recruitment who invited Laurence Shahlaei, who has been crowned Britain’s Strongest Man twice, to help deliver the items.
The Haven shelter, owned by Swindon Borough Council, will also open as a day centre, providing three meals a day, and acting as a point of contact for mental health support and access to training and development.
Rebecca Davison, chair of the Swindon Night Shelter, a charity which started ten years ago serving food in St Mary’s Church, told the Adver: “At the moment there’s still a bit of a gap for people moving from the chaos of the street, and helping them into that day-to-day routine of working and leading fulfilling lives. The idea here is to fill that gap.”
Laurence, who continues to compete around the world in strongman competitions, told the Adver he could relate to living on the streets.
“Growing up me and my family were made homeless,” he said. “I’ve been in this position. I’m in a good place now, but without things like this people will struggle.
“I made a success of my life but it’s never a nice thing to happen, just having somewhere where people can go, it’s really important.
“My friend Don has always wanted to help out so when he told me about this I jumped at the chance.”
Don Bryden, a close friend of Laurence and director of KCJ recruitment, said: “The way I feel is they are all human beings. They say you are three pay cheques away from being homeless, it can happen to anyone.”
The company has asked if it can partner with the housing shelter in the new year to help match one of the guests with local employers in the town to give them a second chance.
“Maybe we can find a job for someone, “ added Don. “If we can help just one person it will be brilliant.”