The Foxton Centre Community Cafe – Christmas Special Provision



The Foxton Centre runs a Community Cafe on four days per week throughout the year. People who are or have been homeless attend, including people sleeping rough. Other local people, some isolated in their communities and local families also attend.

Services include the provision of cheap nutritious food, training in food preparation and life skills, Befriending, Housing Advice, in-reach health and employment services and referrals to the Foxton’s own intensive support programme.

In the twenty months following its initial opening staff in the Cafe intervened with people on the cusp of, or actually sleeping rough with the result that the following numbers were found the following kinds of provision:

Ongoing Interventions

26 into supported accommodation

22 into social landlord accommodation

25 into private rented accommodation 

Christmas 2009

The Foxton Centre co-ordinates the provision of services for homeless people throughout the Christmas and New Year period in Preston. The Centre produces a poster of all services available over a two week period. This includes dates and times of soup kitchens and advice sessions running in other part of Preston City Centre.

 In 2009, the Foxton’s Community Cafe ran from Tuesday 22 December through to Saturday 26 December (Boxing Day) and again on New Year’s Day. The Cafe is open from 11.00a.m. until 3.00pm. The Centre serves a full Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day.

During this period, the Foxton Centre served 276 meals (22/12:41; 23/12:44; 24/12:51, 25/12:63;26/12:55 and 1/1: 32). 

Winter Watch

Winter Watch is the name given to short term overnight emergency shelter provided to rough sleepers in the event of there being an extended period of extremely cold weather.

Winter Watch is triggered when for three consecutive days and nights (72 hours) the temperature fails to rise above freezing. The likelihood of this occurring can be gauged by viewing the Met Office website which gives a specific forecast for Preston. The Head of Housing Advice at Preston City Council has discretion to call Winter Watch when the temperatures reach close to this situation and it is deemed appropriate to open the Winter Watch provision.

Winter Watch was in operation throughout the Christmas/New Year period 2009/10. The Foxton Centre took the role of being the main referral point for people wanting to access such emergency provision. The availability of Winter Watch was publicised among other relevant agencies such as the Salvation Army and Urban Exchange Young People’s Centre 

Nine people accessed Winter Watch during this period. All nine were grateful for the provision but two left after one night because it appears they struggled to cope with the required restrictions.

As the cold weather persisted, teams were put in place in case capacity of existing provision should prove inadequate. Arrangements were made to use the Emmaus building if required. Thanks must go to all the volunteers who expressed a willingness to work a night session. This extra provision was not required but the process can be repeated should another cold period occur. 

Ongoing interventions

In the fortnight running up to Christmas the Foxton Centre continued its work with homeless people outlined above. This resulted in:

·        Four rough sleepers voluntarily returned to their country of origin

·        Two rough sleepers temporarily accessed Bed and Breakfast pending viewing private rented accommodation in the New Year.

·        Thirteen rough sleepers were engaged in the Foxton Centre’s intensive support programme. This group contains those who are most hard to reach; those leading chaotic lives and in complex need.

·        Two of the above rough sleepers will be receiving accelerated access into local supported accommodation schemes.

·        Special arrangements were also made for one further client who had a dog. 

All those who remained in the Winter Watch programme throughout its availability had the opportunity to take up more permanent accommodation.


The provision of Winter Watch, coinciding with the Christmas and New Year period required maximum effort from a range of agencies working together. Through these combined efforts a meaningful and worthwhile service was used by and to the benefit of homeless or vulnerable people in Preston.

Tim Keightley

January 2010


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