A winter shelter project for the homeless provided nearly 900 nights of accommodation in its first three months.

The project, dubbed Safe Sleep, was set up by North Devon Council in partnership with Freedom Community Alliance.

Since opening its doors on October 1, The Freedom Centre in Howard Avenue provided 898 nights of accommodation up until the end of the year.

It has welcomed 65 different people, and, on average, has had more than 10 visitors each day. There are early indications of success too, with 17 people who used the service now housed in long-term accommodation.

The shelter provides a light meal, bed down and breakfast each morning, ensuring that homeless people in North Devon are able to choose to sleep in a secure, warm and dry place during the cold winter months.

It also helps those visiting the service to build and maintain relationships with professionals from voluntary and government organisations, which can help them overcome common obstacles to finding accommodation, whether it is a lack of ID or a rental deposit.

NDC's executive member for health and wellbeing, Councillor Brian Moores, said: “We are so pleased that Safe Sleep has been able to help so many of our district's rough sleepers, giving them somewhere secure and comfortable to sleep at night and offering the help they need to find a more permanent solution to getting them off the streets.

“There are unfortunately some rough sleepers who choose not to take up the service for their own reasons. We would like to remind those people that the shelter's doors are open to them during this cold weather.”

Freedom Community Alliance works with a range of vulnerable groups including homeless people, those suffering from addiction issues, people with poor physical and mental health, those in debt or poverty and people whjo want to improve their health or life skills.

Philip Noall, housing and homelessness manager at Freedom Community Alliance, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with North Devon Council to deliver Safe Sleep which is firmly integrated into North Devon Councils enhanced Rough Sleeper service this winter.

“The team have provided 898 nights of accommodation to the end of December and it's fantastic that many of those who used this service in October and November are now in their own accommodation.

“This project is a great demonstration of what can be achieved when we work together.”