The National Severe Weather Scheme aims to increase the shelter and support available to the increasing number of people sleeping rough this winter. The City of York is going beyond the scheme’s recommended emergency response by adding more beds than required, so that even more people experiencing homelessness get the assistance they need. The extension of services is supported by The Salvation Army.
The City of York promises that the emergency beds will be made available to the city’s rough sleepers even when the weather conditions are not freezing. The emergency response is aligned with the city’s No Second Night Out scheme.
Anyone who knows or knows of people in need should direct them to The Salvation Army’s Early Intervention and Prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York between 10 am and 12 pm. You can also call Streetlink on 0300 5000 914 and provide their location. The closest team will go out and offer them shelter.
The Salvation Army has connections with various organisations that provide emergency accommodation in winter. It ensures that all those who arrive at the hub are housed for the night.
While they’re waiting, people can enjoy warm cups of tea and coffee and avail themselves of the computer centre where they can go online and contact family and friends.
Speaking on behalf of The Salvation Army Charlie Malarkey said, “Throughout this colder period, our team will be conducting more street walks to identify anyone who is sleeping outdoors, and will continue to work with the police, going above and beyond what we already do, to ensure that no one slips through the net and is left out in the cold.”
Anyone who chooses not to enter emergency accommodation will get a ‘survival bag’ that provides some protection against the cold.
Cold hard facts
In the eight years since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough nationally has increased by a whopping 132%! Councillor Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer communities said that additional funding, to the tune of £193,000 will be used to combat the problem in 2018/2019. Complex intertwined problems, including mental health issues, are included in the strategy.
Brooks said, “Working with our partners, we’ve created these new beds and, with support from volunteers, are making them and existing emergency beds available whatever the weather this winter … With our partners The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Peasholme Charity, YES Below Zero, and Carecent, we are offering all known people sleeping rough help to get off the street and into safer, more stable lifestyles.”
Importantly, emergency accommodation is pet-friendly so rough sleepers don’t have to refuse shelter to stay with their pets.
Overall, the city has 101-bed supported emergency accommodation available. In addition to shelter, people benefit from education programmes to help them overcome the root causes of their problems, so they can get back on their feet. Programmes include work training. If necessary, shelters can refer them to mental health service providers and substance misuse centres.
The next step is to refer people to independent accommodation units where they get additional support and training to enable them to move into private or affordable fully-independent homes.