WHEN lockdown was put in place in March as coronavirus spread rapidly Devizes charity Opendoors was determined to carry on helping homeless and vulnerable people in the town.

New restrictions meant that its usual base at the Parish Rooms in Long Street, Devizes cold no longer be used for drop-in sessions but the charity was determined to keep working.

Deputy co-ordinator Angie Carpenter said: “For the people we work with continuity is vital. A lot of them live chaotic lives and we are often the one constant thing.

“Within two weeks of lockdown we were back open at The Wharf in Devizes thanks to support from Wiltshire Council who allowed us to use the area.”

Opendoors has also been working with the council to carry out the Government’s pledge to get homeless people off the street.

In the charity’s new open air drop-in centre showers and toilets can no longer be provided but hot food, water, hand sanitiser and take-away bags with cold food are still on offer. Vouchers for the Devizes Foodbank are also handed out and if people need clothes or bedding Angie will fetch them.

Sessions have been reduced from four times a week to three but the most important thing for many people is the advice and support they are given by Angie and her team of volunteers. They help with paper work, phone calls, dealing with bureaucracy and helping them to access things on-line.

Client Sarah, 58, who has a home but is a regular at the sessions said: “We all love Angie. She does so much to help us. We can trust her.”

Middle-aged Henry, who grew up in Devizes and then moved away, has returned to his home town in his time of need.

He once had a high powered sales job with a national company but later in a time of difficulty took to drink and drugs. He is now sleeping in a tent in Devizes.

He said: If you had told me a few years ago I would be in this situation I wouldn’t have believed you. But these sessions are a real life-line for me. I am now off the drink and drugs and hoping I will be able to get accommodation.”

Amba, 28, has a home but relies on Opendoors for help. She said: “Angie is wonderful. I really come to the sessions just for a chat. Sometimes I need food but mainly it is for the support.

“Just knowing they will always be here on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays helps me.”

Both Amba and Sarah had to flee for their lives when an arsonist started a fire at Waiblingen Way, Devizes, last year.

Amba said: “It still worries me now but I can speak to people about that as well.”

The charity is always in need of more volunteers and donations.