Government grant will help to fund beds during cold weather.
Funding from central government has been provided for a joint initiative to protect vulnerable homeless people in North Devon and Torridge during periods of severe weather this winter.
North Devon Council successfully led a joint bid for almost £43,000 of funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide a warm bed and refreshments to rough sleepers in bad weather.
The Salvation Army’s premises on Oakleigh Road, Barnstaple will be open to any homeless person from the North Devon or Torridge districts when a yellow Met Office weather warning is in place.
Doors will be open between 7pm and 10pm and the initiative will continue until January 1, 2020, supported by partner services.
And when the severe weather provision service has finished, another initiative, called Safe Sleep, will kick in. Safe Sleep – also based at the Salvation Army centre in Barnstaple – will open its doors every day between January 2 and March 31, 2020.
The aim of this provision is to prevent death by hypothermia by giving homeless clients the option to sleep in a safe environment indoors on a nightly basis.
It will deliver very basic sleeping accommodation for up to a maximum of 20 people who would otherwise sleep outside and be vulnerable to the weather elements.
The provision also aims to prevent already vulnerable homeless clients from further risk to their general health and well-being, during the most severe weather months of the year, in our community.
A planning application has now been submitted to North Devon Council to allow a change of use for the building until the end of March.
A statement with the application for the change of use adds: “The hall at The Salvation Army will be set up each evening and returned to the normal day configuration each morning. This is to facilitate the community events that are already held at the centre.
“There will be one security staff member who stays awake all night and one support staff who may be able to catch some sleep but is always on call for security. This means that at no time will any of the clients be unsupervised.
“We are keen to respect local residents and therefore are mindful to make sure we manage the arrival and departure of the potential clients in an orderly fashion; we are pro-active in keeping any inconvenience to an absolute minimum.
“The safe delivery of the project is supported throughout by our partners including the NHS, Police, Probation services.”
Last year, Safe Sleep helped 111 people, at least 36 of whom are now in secure accommodation.
Housing officers from North Devon and Torridge councils are also calling for volunteers to help out when the Salvation Army centre opens its doors, as well as requesting donations, including tinned soup and tinned tomatoes, pasta and rice, lentils, beans and pulses, tea, coffee and biscuits and board games for adults
North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Nicola Topham said: “We are relieved that we are once again able to help rough sleepers during the cold winter months by offering shelter at night and refreshments.”
Simon Toon, Customer Support Manager at Torridge Council added: “As in previous years its vitally important that we have plans in place to support the more vulnerable people in our communities during the winter months. We echo our thanks to all the volunteers that generously give up their time to help us with this initiative”
North Devon Council planners will determine the fate of the temporary change of use application at a later date.