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16.12.22 – Rough Sleeper Initiative in Newcastle-under-Lyme

Written by on 16 December 2022

Rough sleepers in Newcastle-under-Lyme are receiving enhanced support during the cold winter months thanks to a new pilot initiative.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council – working in partnership with non-profit organisation Veterans Connect – is providing a night shelter for vulnerable people, often with complex needs, until 31 March 2023.

The supervised shelter – based in Council-owned premises – is now available every evening as part of an upgraded ‘severe weather emergency protocol’ scheme which provides verified rough sleepers with a safe and warm place to sleep every single night during the winter period, regardless of the temperature.

The venue, which accommodated severe weather emergency provision during the Covid pandemic, is being staffed on a voluntarily basis by Veterans Connect who provide high quality community support to homeless people on the street, or in shelters, in the local area. As well as three rooms, there are toilets and food preparation facilities. Food and warm clothes will also be provided in addition to other practical help while work is carried out to find a tailored solution that stops them from returning to the streets again.

During extreme cold weather, when temperatures drop to zero degrees or below, anyone found sleeping rough in the borough is traditionally offered a place in emergency accommodation on an ad-hoc basis by the Council while longer-term help is sought as part of SWEP.

Cllr. Gill Heesom, Cabinet member for community safety and well-being, said: “The Council is delighted to open up a night shelter like this, the first of its kind in Newcastle town centre. It’s committed to working with a range of partners in an innovative way to prevent and tackle rough sleeping, the most extreme form of homelessness. While the number of people who sleep rough in the borough is in single figures, it’s still too many.

“As well as providing a variety of services to address other types of homelessness, we commission a successful outreach service – through Brighter Futures – which helps rough sleepers to move on from the streets 365 days a year with a view to securing sustainable accommodation and access to appropriate services.

“Rough sleeping isn’t just a housing issue – many people in this situation can have complex needs beyond housing – so we’re very pleased to offer them a safe and warm place to stay on a consistent basis throughout the winter, out of the cold weather conditions which can be dangerous or even fatal, while we work to support them into suitable accommodation.”

The Council is delivering the night shelter using funding awarded from the Rough Sleeping Initiative via the Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Trevor Bailey, director of Veterans Connect, added: “We are truly honoured to run the night shelter for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. Our mission statement works on the ethos of stronger together. We embrace this, with this partnership being an example of what we can achieve.”

Donations of non-perishable food items, warm clothing and toiletries are welcomed. Please e-mail, or contact 01782 363553 for more information.

To tell the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper Team about someone sleeping rough in Newcastle-under-Lyme, please call 0800 970 2304.

More information about the Council’s homelessness and rough sleeping strategy is available here.