Winter help for rough sleepers

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News release: 30 November 2018

Help for rough sleepers during the cold winter months in St Albans will include extra beds at a homeless shelter.

Civic Offices
An additional five beds will be available at Open Door, Bricket Road, during severe weather. These are being funded by St Albans City and District Council.

The facility has 12 self-contained rooms, but a temporary dormitory can be set up in the reception area to provide the extra spaces.

Local churches are providing a further five beds in the event that Open Door reaches its capacity. 

Severe weather is defined as when the temperature or “feel-like” temperature is forecast to drop below 0°C for three consecutive days or when snow falls. 

Open Door operates as both as a night shelter and as a daytime drop-in for vulnerable people in the District, offering advice on housing, health and other issues.

There is access to computers and people can undertake educational and training courses on healthcare, IT, basic life skills and CV writing.

Both the Council and Open Door work to support those living on the streets through the Rough Sleeping Steering Group for St Albans.  

It includes representatives from Hightown Housing Association, the homeless charities Centre 33 and Emmaus, local churches and other faith groups.

The Council carried out an annual count of rough sleepers in the District on the night of Thursday 15 November and estimated 11 people were sleeping rough.

It is required to obtain this figure every year and submit it to the Government. Figures for previous years were: 2017 – 5; 2016 – 13; 2015 – 19; and 2014 – 11. 

The Council currently funds a Hightown Housing Association community and engagement worker for rough sleepers in St Albans. Their job is to offer help and assist people to secure accommodation.

Councillor Brian Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Inclusion, said: “We work very closely with charities, housing groups and other partners on the challenging issues of street drinking, rough sleeping and homelessness.

“One of our priorities, as part of our Homelessness Strategy, is to identify people such as housing tenants in arrears who are at risk of losing their home.  We try to intervene at an early stage to offer help and advice to avoid such an outcome. 

“We also have measures in force to support rough sleepers, particularly in the winter during severe weather. 

“We’re also committed, through the Rough Sleeping Steering Group, to continue to monitor events and see if more can be done.”

Concerns about rough sleepers in the District can be reported to Open Door on 01727-859113, opendoorstalbans@hightownha.org.uk or to the StreetLink website: www.streetlink.org.uk.

A description of the individual and the location should be included.

Councillor contact:
Cllr Brian Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Inclusion for St Albans City and District Council: 01582 767621; cllr.b.ellis@stalbans.gov.uk

Media contact:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council: 01727-296130; john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk