Published: February 17, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
THE father of tragic singer Amy Winehouse has stepped in to help a young people’s homeless shelter in Holloway which is under threat of closure.
Mitch Winehouse, whose daughter Amy, 27, died of alcohol poisoning last July, has donated £5,100, which will allow night shelter Crash Pad, run by Pilion Trust, to keep going at least until April.
Mr Winehouse, 60, who set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation, visited the centre with his wife and was extremely impressed with its work. The shelter specialises in helping young people struggling with drink and drug abuse, which were Amy’s problems.
He said: “Most of the young people there are victims of circumstance and we have been deeply touched by some of their personal stories.
“As soon as we visited the Crash Pad we were drawn to helping them as much as we could. We visit the centre as often as we can and have provided them with warm bedding and clothing.”
The foundation’s grant will cover staff and resource costs, enabling Crash Pad, based in a Methodist church off Caledonian Road, to stay open an additional two days each week.
Mr Winehouse added: “The staff at the Crash Pad work very hard to ensure each young person staying there will only leave when they have found temporary or permanent accommodation, meaning that so far none of them have left having to go back to the streets.”
Staff offer advice, support and encouragement to young people, many of whom have suffered extreme hardship and have low self-esteem.
Mr Winehouse said: “Many young people could have died on the streets this winter if the shelter did not exist.”
Crash Pad, which was launched in December last year, opens every day from 4pm. Fourteen young people aged 18 to 25 are given a hot meal and a bed as well as advice on housing, jobs and possible entitlements.
Pilion Trust has launched a £200,000 appeal to keep it going next year. Founder Savvas Panas said: “We’re very grateful to Mr Winehouse, who has ensured we can carry on at least until the end of this financial year”.
He added: “These are tough times for everyone but young people are particularly feeling the strain. There’s lack of job opportunity, less funding for education and often problems at home. Crime, drink and drugs can be a temptation and we do our best to steer our young people on a stable course.
“But it’s not easy when statutory funding is due to be cut and we are having to appeal to businesses and the community for help.”
Manki Boulasi, 23, who has qualifications in business and performing arts and wants to be an actor, found refuge at Crash Pad.
He described how he managed to hold down an early morning cleaning job at a Primark store for two hours a day while sleeping rough on night buses.
“I left home because of a family dispute and had no idea where I was going”, he said. “In the end at least I was able to keep warm by catching night buses around London. In one case I even managed to sleep when the bus went into a garage.”
You can support the Pilion Trust by texting Pili00 70070£10 or by emailing Savvas at firstname.lastname@example.org.