Homelessness charities fear ‘dire’ winter as shelters forced to ‘significantly’ reduce bed numbers

Taken from the Inside Housing Magazine this week. 

Providers of winter night shelters for homeless people are warning that they will have to “significantly” reduce the number of beds they can provide this year, leading to fears that rough sleepers will have limited access to safe accommodation during the coldest months.

Organisations that typically provide shelter in communal spaces such as churches and community venues are currently trying to redesign their services to ensure those who use them are safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kathy Mohan, chief executive of Housing Justice, the national membership charity for night shelters, told Inside Housing that its network will offer “significantly fewer beds this winter”, adding that some shelters may decide they cannot open at all.

Megan Preston, service development manager at Glass Door, the largest network of winter night shelters in London, said the organisation is currently “making difficult decisions about things like whether to open for more months with fewer people or whether to maximise the number of rooms that we have but just focus on the really coldest months of winter”.

Glass Door typically provides shelter to around 170 people per night during winter in the capital. Ms Preston said the organisation is “hoping” that it will be able to provide between 50 and 100 beds this year.

She added: “We think that because we do have the largest night-shelter network, it would be a really dire situation if we didn’t provide any accommodation at all.

“That could be up to 170 additional people who didn’t have somewhere to turn in an emergency. So we’re looking at what the alternatives are in forms of self-contained accommodation.”

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