Catching Lives

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Catching Lives is a registered charity[1] based in Canterbury, England, that works with people in need to end the harm caused by rough sleeping and insecure housing. Catching Lives helps people who are homeless, young people, ex offenders and individuals affected by mental ill health or addiction.

It started life as Canterbury Open Christmas, before becoming Canterbury Open Centre and then the Scrine Foundation.

On 1 July 2010 the charity renamed itself "Catching Lives". It is a Registered Charity, number 1014868, and Limited Company number 2719436. The charity relies on donations, volunteers and fundraising from within the local community.[2] They run a fundraising shop, the Book Palace, at 28 Palace St Canterbury.

Catching Lives offers respite to individuals, families and the community affected by homelessness, rough sleeping and insecure housing at the Canterbury Open Centre. Opening Monday to Friday, the Centre provides basic services such as nutritious meals, showers, laundry, clothing and a postal address; and during its opening hours Catching Lives staff and volunteers work with clients to help them to tackle any issues that they may have, get access to suitable accommodation and find the motivation to take steps towards personal recovery and independent living.

Canterbury Community Shelter[edit]

Each year, funding permitting, Catching Lives aims to runs a winter night shelter in conjunction with local church groups. In the winter of 2013/4 the Shelter was able to enter its fourth year of operation. The shelter is a rolling project which uses the halls of local churches to provide accommodation through the winter months for the rough sleepers of Canterbury.

Catching Lives Bookshop[edit]

Catching Lives Bookshop is a charity book shop staffed by volunteers which helps to fund the work of Catching Lives. It is located at 28 Palace Street in Canterbury, one of the most photographed buildings in the city due to its crooked door and slanted angle. The shop is spread over two floors and has a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, as well as CDs, vinyl and DVDs.


  • Homeless shelter in Canterbury
  • Various supported and managed housing projects
  • Resettlement and tenancy sustainment
  • Drug, alcohol and mental health care (advocates of dual diagnosis, i.e. recognition that any or all of these problems can be interlinked rather than a simple cause and effect)
  • Jobs, education and training programs

Should funding improve, the charity has plans to become an education provider, start offering routes out of prostitution, and develop branches in other parts of the country.


The original Canterbury Open Centre provided hostel space for the homeless in Canterbury.[3] They absorbed the Kent Literacy Scheme in 2002,[3] in 2004 the Canterbury Youth Project, which ran a young people's homelessness advice service,[3] and in 2005 Finding Your Feet, a service for asylum seekers.[3] At this point the name was changed to the Scrine Foundation, after the founders, Joan Scrine MBE and her husband and life president of the organisation Rev Ralph Scrine.[3] The organisation moved its head offices from Canterbury to Cliftonville in Margate at this time.

The organisation piloted several innovative rehabilitation techniques for homeless people including Slow Alcohol Reduction Detox (SARD) and Guildford Lodge's three stage rehabilitation process which prepared clients for planned move-ons. The services Specialist Workers made The Scrine Foundation a flagship service in the rehabilitation of Homeless people with multiple needs The cornerstone Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Team (DAMH) ensuring community mental health treatment for an otherwise alienated sub-population Job. Education and Training (JET) was the specialism which made the Service unique, The Resettlement arm was successful too, rehousing and assisting new tenants managing their tenancies in order to extend these into the long term. By 2007 they had 146 hostel spaces and 60 full-time staff.[3] In July 2009, Housing Benefit rule changes meant an almost instant revenue drop, this coupled with the loss of three service contracts worth nearly £600,000/year from Kent County Council (because it was claimed that quality standards were not being met).[4] The Board of Trustees refuted the claims but had to put all 66 staff on notice of redundancy.[4]

After an unsuccessful campaign by Staff members, Clients and Trustees, the council transferred their funding to the Porchlight charity, and The Scrine Foundation was forced to close its doors on 31 October 2009. The Canterbury Open Centre night shelter closed for the first time in 14 years and a considerable portion of the clients who remained were forced onto the streets.[5] On 30 November 2009, the Centre re-opened as a day centre for the homeless and vulnerably housed. Based at Palmer House 13 Station Road East, it also serves as the charity's head office, although the registered office remains in Cliftonville.[6]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Charity Commission. Catching Lives, registered charity no. 1014868. 
  2. ^ "Info Pack" (pdf). Catching Lives. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Little, Matthew (10 January 2007). "Collaborators: Mergers save Kent care charities". Third Sector. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  4. ^ a b Warren, Gerry (23 July 2009), "Funding crisis for Canterbury's homeless charity, the Scrine Foundation", Kentish Gazette, retrieved 2010-09-02 
  5. ^ "Homelessness rise concerns charities", yourcanterbury, 12 August 2010, retrieved 2010-09-02 
  6. ^ "Contact Us". Catching Lives. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Scrine, Rev Ralph (2004). EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR A History of Canterbury Open Centre. Scrine Foundation. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°16′27.5″N 1°4′38″E / 51.274306°N 1.07722°E / 51.274306; 1.07722