New shelter for Northampton's rough sleepers stays closed as council continues search for volunteers
An emergency night shelter for rough sleepers remains shut this month as Northampton Borough Council searches for more volunteers to help run it.
The Northampton Nightshelter, on St Andrew's Road, has been converted from the former British Rail Sports and Social Club and was scheduled to open in November.
But as the cold weather turns more severe - and an estimated 25 people sleep rough every night in the town - the shelter is yet to open.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Danielle Stone said: “It is highly regrettable that the night shelter hasn’t opened yet, especially when we are now getting the really cold weather. There is a lot of deep frustration in the continued delay. I hope it’s open soon. I understand they are still trying to make sure everything is ready, like training enough volunteers to run it.”
Northampton Borough Council announced the night shelter as the first objective of a strategy with other authorities to end rough sleeping in the town.
But not enough volunteers have stepped forward to help run the night shift, and training for the existing volunteers is yet to start.
Councillor Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “We need 60 volunteers to be able to run the night shelter; the recruitment is going very well, and the volunteer training starts next week. As soon as enough volunteers have completed the training we will be in a position to open the night shelter.
“In the meantime, we are constantly monitoring the weather forecast. In the event of a spell of severe weather, the 'severe weather project' will operate from the Hope Centre providing shelter, a hot meal, bedding and access to shower facilities, and the opportunity for people sleeping rough to access a range of advice and support.”
When the shelter opens, disadvantaged and homeless people will be able to sleep at the shelter, where the council hopes they can begin combatting the cause of their plight and end rough sleeping in Northampton.Opening hours will be from 9pm to 9am, with people only admitted for the first hour-and-a-half - after being screened for drink and drugs.
Applications to become a volunteer at the night shelter are still open. To find out more visit www.northampton.gov.uk/northamptonnightshelter.