Emergency shelter to take rough sleepers off the streets

Published: Thursday, 24 March 2016

Northampton Borough Council is creating a new, temporary emergency shelter to take rough sleepers off the streets of Northampton.

The borough council has bought a building in St Andrew’s Road in Northampton, the former British Rail Social Club. Because of its location near the site of Northampton Castle, the building will ultimately become part of a long-term project to celebrate Northampton’s heritage, but in the short-term, it will be used to provide emergency overnight shelter for people sleeping rough in the town.

As the building has been disused for some time, the borough council will need to begin the process of applying for planning permission as a temporary shelter before clearing the building and making it suitable for emergency housing.

The provision will be basic, intended to provide a safe and warm place to sleep overnight and facilities for simple refreshments. 

The shelter will then take rough sleepers off the streets overnight, while representatives from around 30 agencies from across Northampton work together to develop and sign up to a permanent strategy to tackle homelessness.

More than 50 people from these agencies met at the Guildhall in February and agreed a fresh approach to working together in order to get to the root of the problem of rough sleeping and prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.  The agencies, which included faith groups, homelessness charities, health professionals, council services and the police, will meet again at the end of April.

Cllr Mary Markham, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “There are about 25 people regularly sleeping rough in Northampton and we know from our own staff and those from other agencies who work with them regularly, that a large number of them are choosing to live on the streets and do not want to change.

“But street sleeping is dangerous for those who do it and we know that it causes public concern - both personally, for the people who sleep rough and also because of the anti-social behaviour that can be associated with it.

“When all the agencies met we agreed on one thing above all – that living rough is not a lifestyle choice we can accept or facilitate in Northampton. This shelter will provide a short-term solution to the problem of rough sleeping but now all the agencies will be working hard to find a more permanent answer.”