Emergency night shelter delayed as not enough volunteers step forward to staff night shift

The opening of a long-awaited emergency night shelter for rough sleepers has been delayed until January, Northampton Borough Council confirms

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 1:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:58 pm
The opening of a long-awaited emergency night shelter for rough sleepers has been delayed until January, Northampton Borough Council confirms

The former British Rail Sports and Social Club, in St Andrew's Road, was set to open in November to become a facility where homeless people could sleep and be directed to permanent housing or health programmes but will now open two months later than expected.

Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing told the Chronicle & Echo that around half of the numbers of volunteers did not step forward to staff 12 hour night shift.

He said: “The physical work to renovate the night shelter is almost complete and the building is looking really good. I am so grateful to all of the people who came forward as volunteers to give their time and skills to help get the night shelter ready, as we couldn’t possibly have got to this stage without everyone’s help.

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“Unfortunately, we can’t open the doors until we have enough volunteers to ensure that the night shelter can open every night of the week, all year round. We need at least 60 people to be able to staff the shelter for 12 hours each night.

“So far around half of this number have come forward – so that’s our focus for the next few weeks; getting people signed-up and fully trained so that we can be up and running in January.

As of June, there were officially 25 people sleeping rough in Northampton, and the borough council aims to reduce it to zero by June next year.

Planners identified the former club, which is now owned by the council, as a medium-term solution partly because rough sleepers gather nearby already.

Opening hours will be from 9pm to 9am, with people only admitted - after being screened for drink and drugs - for the first hour-and-a-half.

Councillor Hibbert added: “If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the night shelter, please visit www.northampton.gov.uk/northamptonnightshelter to find out more.”