Rough sleepers are being offered emergency accommodation in St Albans District during the winter. A bed is available every night for all those who want one.
St Albans City and District Council is working with partner organisations including the Open Door charity to provide the extra help through the Winter Beds Project.
So far, throughout December and January, 13 people have accessed the service and been provided with an emergency bed at some point.
An update was given to a meeting of the Council’s Housing and Inclusion Committee on Wednesday 25 January.
Councillor Jacqui Taylor, the Committee’s Chair, said after the meeting: “Every winter we draw up plans with a number of other organisations to offer extra assistance to rough sleepers.
“We aim to ensure there are beds available to all of the rough sleepers who would like one. The number of rough sleepers in the District at any one time is quite small, but it is still vitally important we ensure there is extra provision to meet the often increased need at this time of year.
“So far the operation has been a success and I would like to thank the charities and volunteers involved in this valuable effort.”
The Winter Beds Project is providing three self-contained cabins, known as Bunkabins, with a total of four beds on land owned by the charity Emmaus Hertfordshire. A further two emergency beds are available elsewhere.
In addition, Open Door’s homeless shelter in Bricket Road, St Albans, accommodates 12 people throughout the year.
Three outreach workers make regular contact with rough sleepers during the winter and ensure they are aware of all the help that is on offer. No one is left not being able to access a bed due to lack of transport around the District.
Rough sleepers are also offered long-term support to turn their lives around with the prospect of a permanent home of their own.
Sleeping rough is dangerous, especially in winter. While the reasons people sleep rough are myriad and complex, there’s no doubt that homelessness is an almost necessary condition. The reasons for homelessness can also be complex but rent rising faster than income, cost-of-living crisis and unstable employment are all contributory factors.
Local Government has a role in making sure that there are places for people in their area but eventually even their best efforts cannot make up for an economy that is not delivering for many people.
Photo Credit: Graham Houston