A new service to provide emergency accommodation and support for rough sleepers in Norwich is due to open in the autumn.
Funded by central government, the ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ service has been commissioned by Norwich City Council and will be delivered by St Martins. It will provide emergency space away from the street. Specialist staff will be on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide people with information, support and to help them to find accommodation.
The £404k funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government includes £53k capital funding to modify and equip a leased building at a city centre location.
The Somewhere Safe to Stay hub will consist of between 15 and 18 beds in private units, with access to shared shower and toilet facilities as well as basic amenities to prepare food and drink. The hub will include office space to enable staff to deliver rapid assessment and referrals to ensure people receive shelter as quickly as possible alongside the specialist support needed to aid their recovery.
The Somewhere Safe to Stay service is designed to support people who have no alternative but to sleep rough. This includes people who leave prison without accommodation in place and people who have been evicted.
Homeless Services manager for St Martins Maria Pratt said, “The hub will provide the emergency short term accommodation that is so badly needed in Norwich. In recent weeks we have seen an increase in the number of people on the streets and this service will help to alleviate the current situation.”
“We will be able to give people privacy and dignity while we actively work with them to access appropriate support and accommodation. We anticipate the average stay at the hub will be around 72 hours, after which each person will have a personalised housing plan so they can access more permanent accommodation alongside ongoing support.”
The Norwich service is part of the government’s £100 million Rough Sleeping Strategy and one of 15 other hubs across the country with this funding.
The hub will complement the existing council-commissioned services already operating in the city – including the Pathways service and hostel provision at Bishopbridge House.
Councillor Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for rough sleeping strategy, said:
“This service is a vital and positive step in the work we are doing to address the complex issue of rough sleeping that Norwich, and cities around the country, continue to face.
“With the loss of a number of preventive services caused by years of government cuts, new facilities like this are becoming more necessary to provide anyone sleeping out somewhere to stay while their options for housing can be assessed alongside any other support they may need.”