A Winter Night Shelter for the homeless opens in Bury St Edmunds’ Northgate Street tonight taking people from across West Suffolk.
The shelter in part of Northgate Lodge is a joint project by the West Suffolk councils with Havebury Housing Partnership, who have recruited specialist care staff for the shelter which will open every night until the end of March.
It can cater for up to 16 rough sleepers from across West Suffolk.
Earlier this month, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, with the support of Garland Street Baptist Church, set up an emergency temporary night shelter at The Elven Centre in Garland Street, run by council staff with volunteers from the church and Bury Drop-In Centre.
The Northgate Lodge centre will be by referral to the housing team, though as with the temporary centre, the council will continue to assist rough sleepers through referrals via the Bury Drop-In Centre and by speaking to people sleeping rough on the streets.
The new centre will offer additional facilities and the chance for people to engage with services.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk councils’ Cabinet member for housing, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to the Garland Street Baptist Church, The Bury Drop-In Centre and the volunteers from partner organisations and the Council’s own staff, who have stepped in and help run the emergency shelter during this freezing cold spell.
“I would also like to say a huge thank you to all those local residents and businesses who have reached out and offered to help.”
Residents and businesses can show their support by donating items to the night shelter. The council and Havebury have appealed for toiletries for men and women, towels, bedding, toilet rolls, washing powder, tea, coffee and other items.
These can be taken in to reception at Havebury and West Suffolk House or taken into Tayfen House.
Cllr Mildmay-White said: “We are realistic to the sad facts that some people we know, will not accept the support that we, or other organisations offer and we cannot force them to accept our help.
“Equally we know that there are some people that our local residents see on our streets, who are not in fact homeless. In many cases we have already found accommodation for them, which is why we always prefer people to give their money to those local charities that help the people who are in need.”
Karen Mayhew, Havebury Housing Partnership chief executive, said: “The increase of street homelessness is a stark reality, and we are keen along with other organisations, to address this acute challenge.
“It is a regrettable but necessary extension to the services we have provided for many years through our direct access hostel at Tayfen House.”
The Council will also continue to make use of over 100 units of temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfast, hotels and hostels, while trying to help people find more settled homes.
Referrals from across West Suffolk can be made by phoning 01284 757178.