Homeless shelter extended to help cope with poor weather
PUBLISHED: 07:04 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:18 16 March 2019
A shelter which is "part of an ongoing attack" on homelessness is to be extended for three weeks to protect potential rough sleepers from storms and cold weather set to batter Suffolk.
Ipswich Winter Night Shelter was due to close its doors for its 2018/19 season last night (Tuesday, March 12), just as Storm Gareth was set to hit with 60mph winds and rain.
But having already provided £56,000 extra funding to allow the shelter to open for eight additional weeks in October and November, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will now cover an additional three weeks in March.
The night shelter will therefore move back to the St Nicholas Centre in Cutler Street for its final three weeks, where the night shelter was housed from October until New Year before moving around different churches in Ipswich.
Julia Hancock - business manager for the Selig (Suffolk) Trust, the charity behind the shelter - said the three additional weeks would be a lifeline for people who may otherwise have slept rough in torrid conditions.
“It’s horrible out there and we know our guests are going to be warm and have a good meal,” she said.
But she also said: “It feels good to have an extra three weeks to help our guests find permanent accommodation.
“We’ve got three more weeks to link up with other organisations and do all we can to help our current guests find long-term solutions.”
So far over the 2018/19 season, the shelter has had 49 guests and provided a total of 1,140 hours of accommodation.
It has helped 20 people move into housing, with Ms Hancock saying: “We’ve had people who, if it had been a shorter season, wouldn’t have been housed.
“Having longer with them means we’ve had more time to help change their lives.”
She said the shelter would be working hard in the extra time available to help people have longer-term arrangements in place for when it does close for 2018/19.
“It feels like we’re part of the ongoing attack on the problem,” Ms Hancock said, who also said she felt proud of the work the shelter’s 240 volunteers have done over the winter.