A heartwarming picture of a homeless person saying goodbye to the streets of Hastings after getting his house keys has been shared by hundreds on social media.
The picture shows the words ‘Today I got my house keys. Thank you x x’ written in chalk on the ground outside Bodyshop in Hastings town centre.
It was first spotted by Ellen Finn on Wednesday (October 3) who took a picture and shared it to her Facebook page while praising the volunteers at Seaview for their ‘fantastic work’.
She said: “I just walked past and saw it, though it was fantastic. I know there’s only a couple regular homeless there so, hoping its one of those two people.
“I love how they left the blanket there. It really brings it home.”
Ellen’s picture was shared on the Facebook group Warming up the Homeless where almost 300 of the 3,848 members have responded to it.
Lesley Hunter, who runs Warming up the Homeless, said this homeless person was one of four housed during the week thanks to a £664,000 grant awarded to Hastings and Eastbourne councils – however Hastings Borough Council confirmed the figure was actually two.
She added: “The money from this grant is clearly coming into force as four people were housed on Wednesday.
“This picture related to a man who has been homeless for many years and is a middle aged man but, unfortunately, we can’t say much more.”
Warming up the Homeless applied for charity status earlier this year in the hope of providing more help to the homeless communities in Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Eastbourne.
She added: “We are a very small group and we have been going as volunteers for nearly three years.
“We are based at Queensbury House where many people leave donations such as clothes and sleeping bags.
“We have a team of volunteers who go out in the night, even in torrential rain, to pass out breakfast bags to the homeless community.
“We do three rounds in Hastings, two in Eastbourne, and one in St Leonards. On our last visit to Eastbourne we counted 50 homeless people so there is a lot more work still to do.”
Lesley also thanked the group’s volunteers who, without their support, the group ‘could not do’ what it does.
Lead councillor for housing, councillor Andy Batsford said: “The Rough Sleeping Initiative is a joint project between Hastings and Eastbourne Councils, which aims to improve access to support services, temporary accommodation and long term housing solutions for rough sleepers. We are working to mobilise the different elements of the project, but in the meantime we are looking at measures we can put in place to reduce the number of rough sleepers by winter.”