Ipswich: Homeless to be kept off the streets during the coldest months as churches prepare for Ipswich Winter Night Shelter project
- Credit: PA
Homeless people will be kept off the streets during the harsh winter months and receive help in securing their own homes – thanks to dedicated volunteers at Ipswich’s churches.
One of seven churches will be open every night from December 4 to March 2 as part of the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter project, providing dinner, bed and breakfast to those sleeping rough and a chance to escape the coldest nights.
It comes as forecasters predict colder-than-average temperatures for the start of December and amid warnings that an “unknown” amount of “entrenched rough sleepers” in the town need help in finding their own permanent accommodation.
The Rev Canon Paul Daltry, minister for church and community engagement within the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “The number of rough sleepers and people sofa-surfing is totally unknown, but we work with them to learn their needs and help them get their own homes to reduce these numbers. A reasonable proportion of them will have some sort of addiction so the warmth and comfort we offer is a source of relief to them.
“Last year it was very successful. One man who used us for two years was looking so much better and had found his own place.” Mr Daltry, who chairs a group of Christians who organised the winter night shelter, said the scheme will also work with hostels and Ipswich Borough Council to assess the rough sleepers and offer them appropriate longer-term housing to help turn their lives around.
He said around 400 volunteers helped out last year but even more urged people to sign up again this year.
The churches taking part in the scheme are Hope Trinity Church, Salvation Army Hall, St Mary’s at Stoke, Ipswich International Church (Elim), Christ Church/St Pancras Church, Burlington Baptist Church and St Margaret’s.
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The venues will provide 12 beds a night for men and women while around 14 volunteers will welcome the guests, cook for those staying and eat with them.
Demelza Penberth, project manager for the No Second Night Out scheme, helped launch a bid to rid the town of homelessness when 35 agencies and stakeholders formed the Ipswich Homelessness Transition Project (IHTP) last year.
Funded by a grant from the Government’s Homelessness Transition Fund, the scheme aims to help people off the streets and house them through the No Second Night Out and Street Link initiatives.
“We work very closely with the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter project and support the work they do,” she said.
“But we help get those homeless people on the right path to regaining their own independence and homes by offering advice and pointing them to the right agencies.
“We encourage them to visit our breakfast and advice centre the morning after they stay at the church where we can start helping them. It is a multi-agency approach.”
John Bowles, portfolio-holder for housing at the borough council, said he supported the “excellent” scheme.
He added the council runs a similar 12-bed service for homeless people, in conjunction with Genesis Housing, at Cavendish Lodge, Turret Lane, during the winter months.
Dan Holley, forecaster at Weatherquest, said: “Early indications say temperatures could be slightly cooler and below average levels for the UK in early December.”
Visit www.iwns.org.uk for more on the project.