Plans to open Exeter Night Shelter all year round to support rough sleepers
Published: 18 February 2020
Plans have been submitted to open the city’s Night Shelter all year round and extend its remit to support rough sleepers in Exeter.
A planning application is requesting a change to the opening time of the shelter, known as The Junction, to be open all year round and not just from October until April as at present.
The application seeks to operate the facility as a 14 bed shelter, with some daytime activities where feasible, from April 2020 to the end of September 2020. The Council is working in partnership with BCHA to deliver the service.
Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for Supporting People, said: “No-one should have to rough sleep and the night shelter is a vital resource to the city in its response to ending homelessness.
“This as an opportunity to engage with homeless people and help them move on to more stable accommodation. We will be employing a dedicated team to assist and support rough sleepers.
“The service will work closely with our Housing Needs Service and we will ensure that people using the shelter are properly supported through the pathway, reducing their stay in the Night Shelter and on into more suitable, stable and affordable accommodation.”
Throughout 2019, the Council’s outreach service worked with 165 identified rough sleepers on the streets of Exeter and a further 109 whose identity was unknown or chose not to engage.
The night shelter remains a mixed gender facility and provides a dry warm and safe place for rough sleepers and homeless people to sleep throughout the year.
Without safe premises, especially in the winter and during periods of bad weather, there is an increased risk that rough sleepers and homeless people will become seriously ill or die due to exposure to freezing temperatures.
In the event of severe weather an emergency protocol exists between partner agencies in the city, this would see the Protocol being activated and additional bedspaces up to a maximum of 40 being provided at the night shelter.
The night Shelter has helped a large number of people over the past two years that it has been in operation.
In 2018/19 a total of 188 people used the night shelter, with over 50 moving on to more suitable accommodation, preventing them from further spells of homelessness and rough sleeping.
From October 2019 to the start of February, 100 people have accessed the night shelter.
The night shelter will be staffed by a minimum of two workers during opening hours. They would be responsible for booking in and allocating bed spaces for clients.
They would also have responsibility for ensuring the safety of service users throughout the night as well as monitoring behaviour to ensure compliance with the accommodation rules.
Sleeping accommodation would in the main be dormitory style rooms on the first floor with either two or three sets of bunk beds per room providing a total of 18 bed spaces. A further eight beds will be located on the ground floor.
From April to October there will be a reduced capacity of 14, this is in recognition that for some people they would chose to rough sleep during periods where the weather is warmer. In the event of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol being declared, there would be additional capacity available at the shelter.