10th December 2020 | Covid-19

The Countess of Wessex GCVO volunteers at the York Road Project , Woking

York Road Project, a charity providing support and accommodation to those experiencing homelessness in Woking, was delighted to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex as a volunteer to their temporary facility at the HG Wells Conference Centre in Woking on December 10th.

At the start of the pandemic, YRP found that the existing night shelter didn’t comply with the Covid-19 guidelines and that the need to accommodate more than 11 clients was evident. With the support of Woking Borough Council, the charity was able to access the Woking Hotel which adjoins HG Wells Conference Centre offering 22 clients their own room with ensuite, to ensure they did not rough sleep. YRP were able to take in couples and those with dogs so that no one rough -slept during the pandemic. With the hotel filling quickly within the first week of moving to the premises, it was decided that 10 extra beds could be built in one of the empty halls at HG Wells. These individual pods were constructed and ready in just 7 days, containing within them a bed, television, table and chairs and access to wifi.   

The charity had to redesign its service, transforming from an 11-bed shelter to providing accommodation for 32 clients, not including those in their move on accommodation or those supported in the wider community in other temporary accommodation.

The Countess of Wessex joined staff and volunteers to pack the weekly goody bags for the clients. These contain varying items (depending on current donations) but include fruit, snacks, toiletries and the necessities to make hot drinks. Her Royal Highness also had the opportunity to speak with staff and fellow volunteers, and they then went to the kitchens to help prepare the evening meal of curry with a naan bread accompaniment.

Cherisse Dealtry, CEO of York Road Project said: “We were honoured The Countess of Wessex joined us as a volunteer on Thursday. It was a real joy to have her helping to cook the evening meal for our clients, and meeting with staff and volunteers to hear their stories.”


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