Hatfield café that raises money for homeless shelter closes

PUBLISHED: 16:20 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 19 March 2020

The new Sparks Community Cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

The new Sparks Community Cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

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A community café in Hatfield where people can pay-what-they-can has been forced to close amid new coronavirus guidelines.

The cafe contains Resolve's Hatfield night Shelter. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.The cafe contains Resolve's Hatfield night Shelter. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

Sparks – dedicated to the late Welwyn Hatfield Mayor Lynne Sparks – shut its doors on Wednesday, which means it cannot raise money for the Resolve night shelter also located at Queensway House.

CEO of Resolve Joe Heeney said: “It has simply been catastrophic for us since Monday’s announcement.

“We had no room at all to manage the café with zero income. We can only hope that once this is all over there is some way we can once again open Sparks.

“As I have said, I cannot understate just how devastating this is for us, for the café and for the shelter too.

Joe Heeney is the CEO of Resolve. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinJoe Heeney is the CEO of Resolve. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

“As you know the café provides the meals for our Shelter guests and this too has been compromised now. We are trying to struggle on for now and will just need to see how we go.”

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, which has supported the night shelter, will be increasingly under strain – which might make it difficult in the future.

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Joe said: “They too of course will be enormously stretched at this time as they have entire borough and every single resident to consider.”

Sparks community cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Sparks community cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

A number of volunteers at Resolve, which provides drug and alcohol support, have also been forced to self-isolate.

“We shall keep on working and are working to keep open all of our other services for as long as we are able, or indeed allowed, until the next advice comes from the government.

“We may or may not then have much in the way of choices on what we do. We shall wait and see, along with everyone else on that.”

The Resolve Night Shelter is currently full most nights and since it opened in July it has had 33 different individuals – mainly men from Hertfordshire – staying there.

Sparks community cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.Sparks community cafe. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

“We try to help people move on, have a safe place to sleep and stay while they get back on their feet.

“We get them health service access, work on CVs and get a bank account.”

He said that when people see rough sleepers on Welwyn Hatfield streets they should report it to the night shelter.

If you want to donate to Resolve please go here localgiving.org/charity/resolve/.


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