Community offer support for people sleeping rough this winter season
18 December 2019People sleeping rough in Chester and across the borough are being offered extra shelter, food and warmth this Christmas and during winter months.
The Council, forfutures and our partners in Outside In are continuing to work together to support homeless people in Cheshire West and Chester.
In recent weeks, when the temperature has felt like zero or below or has dropped below freezing, the Council has been activating its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).
This winter, people sleeping rough can use six additional SWEP beds in existing supported housing schemes.
Up to the end of December 2019, any additional people not placed in SWEP beds are offered bed and breakfast accommodation.
In January 2020, Outside In, forfutures and local volunteers will open the pop-up night shelters in Chester which were successfully trialled last year. The shelters provide 12 beds and an evening meal in local churches on the nights when SWEP is triggered. This exists for January only, initially, but may be extended if there is demand.
Over the winter the Hub at Hamilton House will also provide beds for 20 people, who can stay there while their situation is assessed and a more permanent housing solution can be found.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: “The number of people needing support from our homeless service continues to rise. The complex needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society continues to be a challenge. It is heart-breaking to see people sleeping rough and we do not want people to have to be out in the cold. Sometimes, due to availability or because of previous incidents, the only offer we have available is a bed and breakfast in another town and not everyone in the homeless community will accept this offer.
“That’s why we remain grateful to the churches and voluntary groups who help us to run the pop up night shelters. This model proved popular last year but demand fluctuated, so this year we are trying to use resources effectively by having a range of offers available in different periods of the winter that can bring people out of the cold but still allow us to maintain the additional beds at Hamilton House, plus two supported accommodation sites in Chester, one in Northwich and floating support for people who have moved through the service and are now living in smaller houses across the borough.
“The scale of the housing crisis in our borough stretches beyond what residents see on our streets. Whilst we continue to build social housing, we still want to work with more private landlords who might be able to help us provide longer term housing, particularly for families living in temporary accommodation when they could be living in a proper home this Christmas.”
Janet Lawton of forfutures said: “The extended provision at Hamilton House means that people who might have slept rough throughout the winter are now indoors. The support offered by the voluntary and faith sectors means that as well as a bed indoors, people receive a warm welcome, a home cooked meal and good company. Anyone interested in volunteering during the winter period can email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
This Christmas, a number of special events are being held in the borough to support people who are vulnerably housed:
“Outside In strongly believes that, with the support of its 30+ member organisations in the city, their volunteers and the right combination of care and common sense, Cheshire West and Chester Council will see a reduction in the number of rough sleepers in the coming months."
Support for people sleeping rough from Outside In continues throughout the year with regular weekly events: Share Art Club in the Hub on a Monday, Share Cookery Club in the Hub on a Wednesday, Soul Kitchen have football every Wednesday and have Soul in a Bowl - cookery/eating together every Thursday as well as a new Soul Crafts session every Friday from the new year.