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Rough sleeping

Northampton’s Emergency Nightshelter

The Nightshelter first opened its doors on 6 February 2017.

Every night, between 9pm and 9am, it provides somewhere safe, warm and dry to stay for up to 20 homeless men. Everything is provided free of charge.

As it is not a direct access shelter, people will only be admitted to the Nightshelter if they have already been risk assessed and meet the access criteria: they must have a local connection with Northampton, they must not pose an unacceptably high risk to other people in the Shelter and they must be willing to engage with local services.

Although it was originally hoped that the Nightshelter could accommodate men and women, the size and layout of the building do not lend themselves to this and, because women only account for about 10% of rough sleepers, it was decided that it would be better if the Nightshelter accommodates only men.

In order to meet the housing needs of women who are sleeping rough or are at risk of having to sleep rough, it was agreed that women would be ‘fast-tracked’ into supported housing and that, where this cannot be done straight away, we will provide them with emergency accommodation in a hotel or guest house.

Although we fund the operating costs of the Nightshelter (including the salaries of the three members of staff), the Nightshelter is a community initiative. It was decorated and equipped by volunteers and businesses, its evening meals are prepared by local groups and it is supported by a large team of volunteers.

Everyone who visits the Nightshelter is impressed by its success in restoring trust, improving self-esteem, promoting mutual respect and raising aspirations. They are also really surprised by the very calm and relaxed atmosphere in the Nightshelter.

During its first 18 months, 220 homeless men spent an average of three weeks in the Nightshelter, and a total of 24 women were provided with emergency housing to prevent them from sleeping rough. Almost two thirds of these men, and most of these women, were helped to move on, successfully, into settled accommodation.

During the same period, 109 volunteers donated a total of almost 11,000 hours of their spare time to work shifts at the Nightshelter.