Emergency beds for homeless people as temperatures plummet

Picture: IAN BURT

Picture: IAN BURT - Credit: Archant

Emergency beds have been made available for rough sleepers as falling temperatures put homeless people at further risk.

Ipswich Borough Council has announced that its emergency bed scheme has been activated as freezing temperatures and snowy weather are expected in Suffolk over the coming days.

The additional cold weather beds are being made available by Notting Hill Genesis Housing Association at Cavendish Lodge in Turret Lane, Ipswich.

Access to Cavendish Lodge will be available from 6pm for an initial risk assessment by staff.

After that, access will be limited to service users being brought in by prior agreement of staff or by police.

The cold weather beds are in addition to other emergency beds and those available through Rough Sleeper Initiative funding and the Winter Night Shelter. All these beds are only accessed by referral.

Temperatures are due to fall over the coming days and some snow is expected across Suffolk.

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Over the weekend, temperatures are not expected to exceed 5C in the day and during the night, they could reach as low as -3C.

The activation of the scheme comes just days after it was revealed that the number of rough sleepers in Ipswich town centre has fallen.

The problem of homelessness has increased in many places across the country, especially as problems with the new Universal Credit benefits system have resulted in many being left unable to pay bills.

Yet, while the official rough sleeping count for Ipswich over the 2017-18 winter was 27, outreach workers tackling the problem this year say the tally is “only just in double figures”.

However they have urged people not to rest on their laurels and continue to see homelessness as a “365-day problem” that needs an all-year round focus.

On top of the emergency beds supplied by the borough council, there are 27 emergency beds available at the Chapman Centre in Black horse Lane. Also available at the centre is hot food, showers and laundry as well as a multi-agency team of workers is available seven days a week.

This includes a team who do a sweep of Ipswich’s streets every morning to try and engage with rough sleepers, as well as the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) employing senior mental health worker Jonathan Dickson to support homeless people on a year-long pilot.