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Winter shelter could help people sleeping rough in Norwich in coldest months of the year

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant

Archant

A winter shelter could be set up in Norwich to stop rough sleepers from having to spend the coldest months of the year out on the streets.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member for safe city environment. Pic: Archant Library.Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member for safe city environment. Pic: Archant Library.

Norwich City Council’s rough sleeper unit last year dealt with 400 rough sleepers, a 60pc rise in two years.

And, during the ‘Beast from the East’ earlier this year, when the city was hit by extreme weather, St Peter Mancroft church opened its doors for a number of nights, so homeless people would not have to sleep in the snow.

But this winter, council bosses are exploring whether a winter shelter could be run for four months.

A new £750,000 plus partnership - called Pathways - was launched this summer, which aims to make it easier for those who need help to get support.

And the council is talking to its partners about the possibility of the shelter.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for safe city environment, said: “As we move into the autumn and winter period, being roofless and sleeping on the street is no place for anyone to be in 2018, but due to impacts of austerity, welfare reform, and cuts to public services overlaid by issues of drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness and poor prison discharges, Norwich has seen increases in people sleeping rough.

“The council and the Pathways Norwich service is currently in discussion with charity and faith organisations in Norwich to look at the possibility of opening a winter shelter for four months.

“This provision will work in tandem with the new services commissioned by the city council. We hope that by joining this work together that we will provide more options for rough sleepers in Norwich and can encourage people into more secure accommodation.”

The council is also recruiting staff for new dry house accommodation, which will provide homes for rough sleepers who want to live in an alcohol and drug free environment.

Mr Maguire said: “These staff will soon be in place with two support workers and a specialist drug and alcohol nurse. We are also working closely with the new drug and alcohol service Change Grow Live to ensure there is a joined up approach.”

A city rough sleeper count last month found 24 people bedding down on the streets, six fewer than November last year.

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