Shelter for rough sleepers as temperatures plummet

Joseph Bulmer

Severe weather brings emergency shelter into action.

SPECIAL arrangements are being made to provide rough sleepers in North Devon with emergency shelter tonight (Monday).

With the temperature predicted to drop to zero degrees Celsius or below for three consecutive nights, rough sleepers can access emergency accommodation at the Freedom Centre, in Eastern Avenue, Barnstaple between 8pm and 10pm.

After 10pm, they can gain entry by a referral from the police, hospital or North Devon and Torridge district councils’ out of hours teams.

Phil Noall, projects manager for Freedom Social Projects, said: “Once again, it’s a privilege to be able to provide this service, in partnership with the councils.

“It makes a huge difference to those people who would otherwise be sleeping rough in severe weather conditions, and the relief on their faces is all too obvious when they come into the building.”

Last winter, 37 individuals made use of the service. As well as a bed and breakfast, individuals are also offered an assessment of need and directed to other local agencies to help them move away from rough sleeping and into stable accommodation.

North Devon Council’s executive member for housing, Councillor Faye Webber, said: “This is the first time the severe weather provision has been called into operation this winter.

“When the temperature plummets, it’s even harder for those sleeping rough to survive. Therefore, we hope they decide to use the service, to keep them safe while the freezing cold spell passes.”

Cllr David Lausen, Torridge’s lead member for homes and housing, added: “With the temperature set to drop tonight and for the next couple of nights, this emergency accommodation is vital.

“It gives people who access the service a warm bed and a breakfast in the morning, rather than the prospect of a freezing night, sleeping rough on the streets.”

For advice about homelessness and housing options in North Devon (01271) 388870. For Torridge, call (01237) 428849.