Stevenage Haven started out on a very small scale with an initiative from local church groups. The idea of a night shelter to help address the issue of housing and associated problem of homelessness was proposed. The Stevenage Housing Support Group started in 1990 to raise awareness of these issues with Chris Foster as its Chairman. In the November of 1992, the Winter Haven was opened in The Glebe, Stevenage providing a night shelter for a period of 3 months. Agencies such as social services and the police referred rough sleepers to the volunteers at the shelter.
In 1995, the project was forced to relocate to "The Lodge" in Frobisher Drive, Stevenage. Funding for 3 years was provided in 1996 from Crisis under the national "Open Door" scheme allowing the shelter to remain open through the year. Due to its residential location, it continued only to offer overnight accommodation. Stevenage Haven registered as a charity in September 1997.
In 2001, core funding was increased through an initiative which became known as Supporting People. A property, refurbished by Stevenage Borough Council, in Ditchmore Lane, Stevenage Old Town, enabled us to provide daytime opening. Key workers were taken on to provide support services to address clients' issues and develop their skills. The new hostel, opened by the mayor of Stevenage, was named Chris Foster House.
A programme of providing move-on properties to support clients from the new hostel back to independent living started in 1995 with support from the local council. The number of properties we operate has, since then, increased to 11 one of which is a capital asset of the charity.
In July 2014, we successfully tendered for a 3 year contract to manage the operation of North Herts Sanctuary where we operate in partnership with the Trustees of that charity.
The scale of our operation will significantly increase in 2015 with the opening of our new hostel (located next to our existing premises). This will increase capacity from 18 beds to 40 and provide an additional move-on property.