Saturday, 4 December 2010

Rough Sleepers Rescued from the Cold

By Ben Aulakh

The homeless in the East Midlands are being rescued from sleeping rough as temperatures plummet amid one of the coldest November’s on record.

Leicester City Council and its partners are working together to help as many homeless people find a warm bed for the night, with temperatures in recent weeks failing to get much above freezing.

Cllr Paul Westley, Cabinet Member for Housing said, “With the help of other agencies in the city, we’ve been able to provide an extra 19 bed spaces today, on top of the ten we always provide in severe weather.

“Despite the pressures put on services at this time, and the financial constraints being faced, we are working to ensure every effort is made to provide beds in these severe conditions.”

The city’s YMCA, the Leicester Quaker Housing Association and Action Homeless have all helped by making extra beds available; the Bridge ‘homeless to hope’ faith group are also providing volunteers to assist with managing the beds.

Toni Soni, Head of Hostels said “Our homeless outreach team is out on the streets making contact with rough sleepers with the aim of bringing them in out of the cold.

“This initiative offers a lifeline, because as the temperature drops there is a real danger that people will lose their lives if they sleep in the open.”

Though council staff are confident they can meet the current demand for beds if the severe weather continues, they are calling on other housing providers to provide even more assistance.

Housing staff are also asking for donations of warm clothing, which can be made at the Dawn Centre, Conduit Street, Leicester.

Anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough in the city can contact the council’s housing options team on 0116 252 7008 during normal working hours.

Outside office hours they can contact the Dawn Centre, on Conduit Street on 0116  221 2770.

More details of the services the council provides for homeless people are available at www.leicester.gov.uk/hostels

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