Forecasts of sub zero temperatures from tonight have prompted Northampton Borough Council to open an emergency winter shelter at The Hope Centre.
The existing night shelter near Northampton Station takes in rough sleepers who are able to meet certain conditions of behaviour and accept help in trying to get them off the streets.
But in cases of very severe weather the winter drop-in shelter allows rough sleepers who have failed to engage with the night shelter to get out of the cold at night. It will operate between 9pm and 7am staffed by volunteers.
Northampton Borough Council released the following statement on their website yesterday:
Northampton’s winter shelter (run by Northampton Borough Council in partnership with the Hope Centre, Midland Heart Housing Association and NAASH) provides somewhere safe, warm and dry for rough sleepers to go during the coldest nights of the year.
The winter shelter will operate from the Hope Centre in Oasis House between 9.00pm and 7.00am from Thursday, 17 January until at least the morning of Monday, 21 January. During this time, the weather forecast will continue to be monitored and, on Saturday, a decision will be made on whether or not the shelter should continue beyond Monday morning.
More than 50 people responded to Northampton Borough Council’s appeal last week for volunteers to help its team leaders and support workers to run the winter shelter.
Cllr Stephen Hibbert, Cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “Sleeping rough is very dangerous at any time of year and our street outreach workers do everything they can to encourage people who are sleeping rough to access our year-round Nightshelter.
“Some refuse to engage, or take longer to engage, so we operate a winter shelter on the coldest nights of the year. Everything has been in place since October.
“The winter shelter provides people who are sleeping rough in Northampton with somewhere safe and comfortable to stay, hot drinks and food, and access to the local advice and support services that can help them to come off the streets.
“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has volunteered to support the smooth running of the winter shelter. We are hoping that it can emulate the success of Northampton’s Emergency Nightshelter which is also supported by a fantastic team of volunteers and has so far helped nearly 200 people who were sleeping rough, or at imminent risk of having to sleep rough, to move on successfully into settled housing”.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at the winter shelter should visit www.northampton.gov.uk/swep and complete the online volunteering form.