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Night shelter proving a life saver in cold weather

Published: 4 January 2019

Night shelter proving a life saver in cold weather Cllr Emma Morse inside the Night Shelter

A “potentially life-saving” night shelter allowing rough sleepers to come in out of the cold, is proving popular in Exeter as night-time temperatures drop below zero.

Exeter City Council’s Night Shelter – renamed The Junction and situated in the former Spice Island restaurant in Magdalen Street – has been packed out over the last couple of nights as rough sleepers escape the bitter nights on the street.

The City Council activated its Severe Weather Protocol (SWEP) on Wednesday, with the temperature dropping below zero for three consecutive nights.

The protocol allows the Council to work with its partner agencies Julian House, BCHA and St Petrocks to organise accommodation for anyone rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping during severe weather.

Its aim is to ensure that no one dies on the streets due to extreme cold or severe weather and that every effort is made to engage individuals with support services during the winter months

“The Night Shelter has proved invaluable,” said Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for People. “No-one should be sleeping out on the streets of Exeter and providing this facility is potentially life-saving.

“Having a purpose-built facility which allows people to come inside, keep warm and be comfortable has to be a good thing.”

Once inside, the Council and its partners work with the individuals, many who have very complex issues and have become entrenched rough sleepers - and try and establish solutions moving forward.

On Thursday night, the Night Shelter was packed out and since it opened in November, 100 people have taken advantage of the facility. A number of those using the shelter have already been found supported accommodation.

The shelter has been provided by the City Council and is run by local charity Julian House and BCHA. Funding for the facility came from a successful application to the Government’s national initiative to reduce the number of rough sleepers. Exeter received £481,600 to provide support to people living on the streets and help them back into accommodation.

The facility is open from early evening until early the next morning. There are toilets, showers and bunk beds and an opportunity to access hot meals. The shelter will remain open until the end of March, at which point it will be used as a meaningful occupation hub for rough sleepers - from training sessions to arts and crafts, music sessions, therapy – anything that could benefit those who use it.

The Night Shelter wouldn’t be possible without the support of the following partner agencies: 

  • Outreach Team/Julian House
  • St. Davids Church
  • Salvation Army
  • Crosslines
  • BCHA
  • St. Petrocks
  • ECI
  • Together
  • Learn Direct
  • Mental Health Services
  • The Crisis Team
  • Police
  • Ambulance Service

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