New council services to help rough sleepers leave the streets

Published: Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Northampton Borough Council will be re-opening the Winter Shelter and expanding its Street Outreach service from Thursday 14 February, following the successful delivery of the Severe Winter Emergency Protocol (SWEP) in January.

Enough staff have now been recruited and trained for the shelter to open in Oasis House for the rest of February and the whole of March, as an all-weather Winter Shelter, regardless of the overnight temperatures. In addition the Street Outreach team will be engaging with rough sleepers every day of the week to help them off the streets.

The Street Outreach workers will be talking to rough sleepers on the street and in the day centres, social centres, support groups and churches that they visit. Between them, they will be working three shifts every day: 6am to 10am, 12pm to 4pm and 8pm to midnight.

A grant of up to £60,000 from central Government’s Cold Weather Fund will help to support the extension of the services over the next seven weeks, after the shelter provided a safe place for 80 rough sleepers and homeless people for 14 nights, between 17 January and 2 February.

The Winter Shelter opened its doors for the first time in 2019, between 17 and 23 January and throughout this period, 47 men and 11 women stayed at least one night; 14 of the 58 stayed six or seven nights.

During the second period that the Winter Shelter was open (between 27 January and 2 February), 46 men and six women stayed at least one night; six of the 52 stayed six or seven nights.

Unfortunately, of the 80 people who stayed at the winter shelter, it was necessary to exclude six people for reasons that included threats to kill staff, racial abuse and threatening behaviour, use of Class A drugs on the premises, and criminal damage to the building. 

A team of 52 dedicated Winter Shelter Volunteers donated nearly 400 hours of their own time to support the smooth running of the Winter Shelter, helping to welcome people into the shelter, serve food and drink, and disseminate support information.

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, Cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “First and foremost the Council wants to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of the volunteers who generously gave up their spare time to help and support homeless people during two very cold snaps in January and February. 

“Although one in five of the 102 people referred did not use the Winter Shelter, it was still very busy and the volunteers were fantastic. Communication between the Winter Shelter and the Street Outreach Team was so much better than last year and, as a result, a total of 14 people were offered the opportunity to move into alternative accommodation during January and February.

“We hope the extension of our services, over the next seven weeks, means we will be able to help even more rough sleepers leave the streets.”

 Apply to become a Winter Shelter volunteer at: www.northampton.gov.uk/swep