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Just off North Street and the cobbled lanes of Brighton lies The Clock Tower Sanctuary. A warm, friendly and safe place for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or facing homelessness. The Clock Tower aims to prevent long term homelessness among young people by offering services and support they need to have a future in which they can support themselves. FareShare Sussex works with The Clock Tower Sanctuary to ensure that their service users have access to a healthy and wholesome meal.

The Clock Tower Sanctuary offers services and support to 20-25 people daily. Clients can make their own meals or cook together in groups. They also have access to showers, a laundry room, computers, music and games.

Clocktower Sanctuary volunteer Alice explained how cooking meals at the centre helps clients to feel comfortable enough to discuss problems or concerns that they have which is the first step to getting the support they need.

The lounge area is bright, homely and colourful, full of activities for their service users to take part. When I arrived there were young people using the computers, another group playing chess, a few having a friendly chat, but the heart of the sanctuary appeared to be the kitchen/dining room. I spoke to a volunteer who described the kitchen/dining area as:

…“cultivating the feeling of family and belonging.  The kitchen is the hub of all the families”

In the kitchen/dining area, I spoke to a few chatty service users who seemed very happy about the support that they were receiving from The Clock Tower Sanctuary, and told me funny stories of their efforts to stop food waste.

“So there were 4 packs of petit filous yogurts expiring so I ate the whole 4 packs at once” 

Alice told me about how important it is for The Clock Tower Sanctuary to receive fresh fruit and veg as it enables young people to have some form of control over their meals as they can cook from scratch. It leaves room for imagination, invention and fun.

I arrived and found a couple of young people preparing food to cook; one of the service users was in the middle of making a chicken korma.

He told me how cooking has helped him become more in control of his emotions.

“Cooking my own food has helped me become emotionally stable. Here is the only place that I can make myself something warm to eat.”

He went on to discuss his wheat allergy and how the fresh produce and variety of food from FareShare has helped him create meals suited to his diet. He talked about the amount of support he has received and how someone is always there to talk to at the Clocktower Sanctuary.

The kitchen is open from around 9am – 2pm so the service users have plenty of time to cook and eat. Meals at The Clock Tower Sanctuary are important for the physical and mental health of the vulnerable young people it supports. Through a series of life skills workshops, the centre teaches people how to make healthy and affordable meals amongst many other important things for independence.

The food that FareShare Sussex provides for the Clock Tower Sanctuary enables them redirect money to services such as counselling, life skills workshops, CV and job search, housing and welfare advice, social activities and outings.

“If we did not have the stuff from FareShare they won’t be able to cook, sit and eat. It opens room for a chat.” 

Thank you very much to volunteer Alice for hosting our visit.

To find out more about the Clocktower Sanctuary, visit their website.