Exeter Night Shelter providing refuge from the cold

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Media release | For immediate release

Exeter Night Shelter providing refuge from the cold

Exeter’s night shelter has been declared a success just weeks after opening its doors to rough sleepers.

In three weeks, more than 300 bed spaces have been filled by the Safe Sleep initiative, with on average 20 rough sleepers a night taking advantage of the facilities.

Homelessness provider Julian House is running the 40-bed facility in Market Street in conjunction with the City Council. The service operates between 8:30pm and 8:00am each night offering safe secure accommodation for people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets of Exeter. The service is staffed overnight, with a minimum of two staff on at all times, and will be open until the start of March.

Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor of Customer Access, said it was extremely heartening to see the night shelter being so well received, especially during the recent cold spell.

“The number of people using the shelter has grown from nine on the first night to 28 at the end of December, as word has spread and rough sleepers have become aware of its existence,” she said.
Just shortly before the shelter opened on 21 December, it was estimated that around 40 people were sleeping rough on Exeter’s streets.

“You can’t persuade everyone to come inside but with a night shelter offering 40 bed spaces, there is no need for anyone to be sleeping out in these conditions,” said Cllr Morse.

“Of course we understand that many of those sleeping rough have complex issues and that is the challenge we share with our partners, to address these issues and find them a more permanent roof over their head.

“Safe Sleep is a great opportunity to help people out during the cold winter months but we realise that it is not the solution. The City Council is committed to reducing homelessness and we are constantly looking at opportunities to bring on line additional accommodation and support.

“We are working with Private Landlords and other providers to lease houses and form a shared house network across the city.”

Any private landlord who would be interested in working with the Council to reduce homelessness in the city should contact 01392 265685.

@BBCDevon Breakfast Show with Simon Bates

bbc-radio-devon-02

06 December 2016

News headlines at 08:00

Angela Kalwaites [AK]:
Exeter City Council voted unanimously last night night to approve a scheme to convert the old Richard’s Aquatics shop on Market Street into a homeless shelter.

Supporters of the plan said that if it didn’t go ahead, there was a high risk that people would die on the streets this winter.

But some businesses in the West Quarter of the city were worried it could bring trouble at a busy time of year, and put off  customers.

Exeter City Councillor Paul Bull says the shelter is much needed, and this is a good result.

Paul Bull [PB]: 
We need a city centre location. 40 rough sleepers on the street in the city centre are what’s needed to be housed.

If we look to locations outside the main city centre, the fear is the rough sleepers won’t take up the offer of a warm, safe environment, where we can engage with them.

[…more news…]

AK:
it’s just coming up to 10 past 8.

Simon Bates [SB]: 
More news about the vote last night at the Council meeting to decide whether or not to go ahead with temporary winter shelter for rough sleepers in Exeter…

[…]

SB: 
It’s 22 minutes past 8.

If you were listening last Thursday, you’ll remember the story about Exeter City Council considering that plan to turn an old shop on Market Street into a temporary winter shelter…for rough sleepers. It was controversial, with many local businesses unhappy about the idea.

We spoke to Andrew, who’s been homeless on and off for 25 years – he’s slept rough as well, but he’s making a go of things by selling the Big Issue and that’s what he’s been doing in Exeter for the last 6 months. He gave us his thoughts on why winter shelters are important.

Andrew: 
In the wintertime, it’s so cold and so freezing you try and get through 8 and half, 9 hours no warmth, no hot soup, no cup of tea, no anything  – it’s really tough. Sometimes the winter just takes people’s lives because of the cold, it takes a few and it’s really tough at this time of year. So anything where people can benefit  – hot soup, pasty, or shelter – is a great asset.

SB: 
yes, I can see that.

The City Council met last night and unanimously decided to approve the scheme to convert old Richard’s Aquatics shop into a homeless shelter.

Cllr Paul Bull spoke to Harriet Bradshaw last night.

Paul Bull [PB]: 
We need a city centre location. 40 rough sleepers on the street in the city centre are what’s needed to be housed.

If we look to locations outside the main city centre, the fear is the rough sleepers won’t take up the offer of a warm, safe environment, where we can engage with them.

I’ve seen and read the reports on what Julian House has done up in Bath – they’ve been working in Bath for 40 years, the’ve been dealing with this sort of problem. I have faith in the, they say they are going to put in high-definitions CCTV cameras networked so that they can actually record instances of anti-social behaviour – and when it happen, and I don’t believe it will, they’ve taken on board the comments of the Devon & Cornwall Police’s Designing Out Crime Officer to make sure all the elements surrounding the facility of the building are addressed to reduce and eliminate crime.

SB: 
Well, John Isserlis is the Ops Director of Julian House, the charity which is going to manage this shelter for the City Council. He’s on the line now.

Mr Isserlis, good morning.

John Isserlis [JI]: 
Good morning.

SB: 
Thank you very much for taking the call.

The first thing – and the most important thing, I think – is that there have been concerns from local traders about this, about drinking and swearing in the Market Street area, ant-social behaviour. Can you reassure them that isn’t going to happen?

JI: 
We can’t give a 100% guarantee that there won’t be any anti-social behaviour, I think the city centre is an area which experiences some anti-social behaviour already. What we can assure traders and local residents of is that we will manage the environment around the Market Street hostel. We do have a lot of experience in working with rough sleepers   on the street and in hostel accommodation, and we take our responsibility beyond the gates – or the doors – of the hostel, and take responsibility for the environment around it. We want to very much work with the local community there , and we recognise their objections and concerns, that hopefully we can change some attitudes as time goes on and get their support.

SB: 
What are you actually going to offer? And for how many people?

JI: 
it’s going to 90 nights accommodation, which is a replication on what Exeter City Council offered last year – over divided premises, which was St Petrock’s and Gabriel House. 90 nights of cold weather accommodation.

Up to 40 beds a night for men and women, and which would make a sizeable dent in the number of rough sleepers out on the streets. The current count is 41, but that’s a fluctuating number.

We will offer them accommodation, and try and encourage people to stay – so that people don’t stay just for 1 or 2 days, they stay consistently throughout the period. We will work with them, engage with them ,to try and create a plan where they don’t return to the streets at the end of Safe Sleep, but they move into something more considered, more appropriate for their needs and is more long lasting.

SB: 
John Isserlis, I’m really sorry – we’ve got to stop it there because the line quality is so bad…but thank you very much for joining us.

John Isserlis who is the Ops Director for Julian House, the charity which is going to manage this shelter.

JI: 
More news

SB: 
More news

JI: 
More news

ECC Media Release | Exeter night shelter gets the go-ahead

Exeter night shelter gets the go-ahead

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There’s good news for people sleeping rough on the streets in Exeter this winter, with a night shelter set to open.

The shelter in Market Street, Exeter, is expected to open at the weekend and will be run by Julian House as part of the Safe Sleep initiative.

The green light was given by Exeter City Council’s planning committee, where an application for a change of use for the premises was last night (Monday 5 December) granted unanimously. The building will now be used for rough sleepers to shelter overnight from harsh winter weather, up until the end of February.

John Isserlis, Operations Director at Julian House, said last night’s decision means they can now focus on getting people out of the cold and into safe and warm accommodation when the temperature plummets.

“There was a real concern that if we hadn’t been able to secure the night shelter, someone was going to die on Exeter’s streets this winter. It’s already happened this week in Birmingham where a rough sleeper has frozen to death on the streets.

Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for Customer Access, said: “We have been looking for a location for some time after another location fell through. If we hadn’t got Market Street, the reality is that there was no alternative waiting in the wings and the night shelter just wouldn’t have happened.”

The City Council is committed to tackling homelessness in the city and works closely with a wide range of partners to reduce the numbers of people sleeping on the streets.

Just recently the Council announced the number of rough sleepers in the city had reduced from 60 to 41.

Cllr Morse added: “Just in the last quarter, we have had good outcomes reconnecting 12 people back into homes in other areas. This is a positive sign that by working together, we can begin to make a difference.”

Cllr Morse said that whilst the ultimate aim was to end rough sleeping in the city, this was a challenging national issue, with cities such as Bristol and Oxford seeing an increase in numbers over recent years.

In 2014, the official number sleeping on the streets in Bristol was 41, but in 2015 this was up to 97, an increase of 137%. Oxford has also seen a rise in the number of homeless people sleeping rough on city streets in the last year. During an annual count in 2015, 39 people were found sleeping on the streets of Oxford, up by 50% from 26 in 2014.

“We can’t be complacent,” said Cllr Morse, “We must continue to reach out to those without a home or who find it difficult to maintain their accommodation.”

The City Council will be working closely with Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, NHS, Devon and Cornwall Police and local providers BCHA, Julian House and St Petrock’s to offer a safe place to sleep for those with no other options available. A number of spaces to accommodate rough sleepers will be available from mid-December through to 28 February, including specific provision for women.

Safe Sleep is a proactive approach, building on a requirement by government under Severe Weather Provision, where additional spaces are only offered whenever the temperature drops below zero for three or more nights. With the possibility of snow and freezing weather there are serious concerns for rough sleepers as there is a real risk to their health.

Once again, the winter gives providers the opportunity to work together in a more co-ordinated way with this hard-to-reach group. Julian House (Street Outreach Contract) are central to the success of the scheme and are undertaking to work with other providers to help ensure easy flow into the accommodation and support to manage those moving through into longer-term options.

Safe Sleep places will be in addition to services already provided at BCHA’s Gabriel House hostel and the St Petrock’s Resource Centre in the city, with support of the Assertive Homeless Outreach Team from Julian House. The Safe-Sleep project will provide bed spaces alongside use of the City Council’s temporary accommodation stock, where appropriate.

The project includes support alongside a place to sleep with the intention of being able to offer as many ongoing accommodation placements as possible by the end of February.

The Council and Julian House continue to be committed to working closely with nearby residents and businesses to ensure that concerns are heard and responded to.

@BBCSpotlight Late News

bbc-spotlight-logo-400x360

05 December 2015

Rebecca Wills [RW]:
Good evening. A controversial plan to turn a former shop into a temporary homeless shelter has been given the go-ahead tonight.

bbc-spotlight-04

It’s location is what traders are unhappy about as it is so close to their businesses. As Harriet Bradshaw reports, many fear they’ll have to put up with more anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

Harriet Bradshaw [HB]: 

BBC Spotlight 04

After 40 minutes of deliberation, councillors have unanimously voted in favour of this scheme which would mean up to 40 rough sleepers during the coldest months would be housed overnight. But there have been concerns and objections from local traders in the area because of the location.

[…package by Harriet Bradshaw…]

Paul Bull [PB]: 

bbc-spotlight-03

We need a city centre location. 40 rough sleepers on the street in the city centre are what’s needed to be housed.

If we look to locations outside the city centre, the fear is the rough sleepers won’t take up the offer of a warm, safe environment, where we can engage with them.

HB: 
The shelter could be up and running here on Market Street as early as this time next week

Harriet Bradshaw, BBC Spotlight, Exeter.

 

#ECCplanning Committee considers #SafeSleepExeter

Earlier tonight, Exeter City Council’s Planning Committee considered Planning Application 16/1376/03 – a change of use from A1 to temporary night shelter (sui generis) until end of March 2017 for the former Richards Aquatics, Market Street, Exeter, EX1 1BW.

The facts of the case are summed up in the Officer’s Report presented to the committee, and the Officer’s recommendation was for APPROVAL.

I spoke to this application under Standing Order 44:

ecc-standing-order-44

Here’s what I said:

I sit here before you as Lead Councillor for Communities and Neighbourhoods. Today I want to represent a hidden community, a voiceless community – the Street Homeless. And  I also represent the over 850 people who have signed an i-petition in support of this application.

None of us know why each individual has ended on the streets. Rough sleepers are not the problem – they are the result of the problem. Most don’t choose to be homeless. Circumstances have arisen to cause them to be in the situation.

And what a position to find yourself in. The average life expectancy for a male living on the streets is 47. And for a woman it’s even lower – 43. No-one would make that choice, would they?

Steve Barriball of Citizens Advice Exeter has often said that many of us are only 3 pay slips away from homelessness…and that means that someone who is permenantly housed today may need to us Safe Sleep by the end of February. There but for fortune go you or I.

You are normally asked to consider an application and determine it solely on planning grounds but this application for a change of use is different as it is sui generisOf (his/her/its) own kind, meaning that something has very special characteristics. They are so special, that the thing cannot really be compared to anything else.

In planning terms, the term relates to buildings are those that do not fall within any particular use class

I believe Safe Sleep does have very special characteristics – it will be in operation to save lives on the street over the winter. It is vital that such a night shelter is provided in Exeter – otherwise people will die of the extreme cold. I don’t want that on my conscience – do you? Do the objectors?

Rough sleeping is damaging for the individual and detrimental to the communities in which they live

Some of the objections suggest they are not happy because people are rough sleeping around them, yet they still complain when something is done to shelter the street homeless.

So lets be clear, these premises could mean people might make steps to getting the help they need to turn their lives around, and no longer be a part of the street attached community.

There have been suggestions that such a facility should be located away from the city centre. I disagree. The location is a good one. This is where rough sleepers are. If we put the emergency shelter 1 or 2 miles away people are going to just stay where they are.

Let’s look at what happened when Safe Sleep ran last year.

In the 91 days the scheme operated, 1,235 bed spaces were provided during the scheme, assisting 82 homeless people to be accommodated, with 45 moving on to more settled accommodation at the end.

Whilst in the warm, Exeter City Council’s partner support agencies are able to meaningfully engage with these vulnerable people and turn around the – often chaotic – lives of those who normally shun such intervention.

As a result of last year’s Safe Sleep, many of the people who used the scheme are no longer rough sleepers.

Safe Sleep can help the street homeless today, tomorrow and well into the future.

Julian House has a long and excellent track record in providing support for the street homeless and will ensure that all is done to minimise the impact on the surrounding – and wider – neighbourhood.

They say in their planning statement that he proposal will not harm the amenities of nearby residents by virtue of noise, smell, litter or late night activity.

Nor will the proposals create or increase the potential for public disorder and crime or reduce the perceived attractiveness of the centre through support by professional staff; a close working relationship with the existing Homeless Outreach team, and a close working relationship with the police

In that regard, I am sure that Julian House will take on board the comments of Paul Taylor, Devon & Cornwall’s Designing Out Crime Officer.

But it’s not only Julian House that are involved with this project. Other homelessness agencies across the city and significant numbers of volunteers are due to come together to help the street homeless community. A real sense of communities coming together to bring compassion to that hidden community, that voiceless community.

I have received assurances that City Council, along with Julian House and the other partners, are committed to working closely with nearby residents and businesses to ensure that concerns are heard and responded to

To sum up:

The aim of Safe Sleep Exeter is simple – to prevent loss of life and to reduce rough sleeping to as near zero in the city as possible.

And the proposal suggests that the operation will positively contribute to the wider safety of the city centre.

To me that’s a WIN WIN scenario. I hope you agree?

During their live updates from the meeting, the Echo’s reporter Katie French described me variously as “Man supporting homeless shelter speaks to the committee” and “SafeSleep spokesman addresses council“. Thanks to Chris Dent for taking to twitter to let her know who was speaking:

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-05-59-28

The Planning Committee approved the application UNANIMOUSLY.

Exeter City Council continuing to tackle homelessness in Exeter

Exeter City Council continuing to tackle homelessness in Exeter

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>Exeter City Council today reaffirmed its commitment to tackling homelessness in the city.

The Council has been working closely with a wide range of partners to reduce the numbers of people sleeping on the streets.

Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for Customer Access, said: “At one point a few months ago, we estimated that there were around 60 people sleeping on the streets but we have been working with our Outreach Team from Julian House and other partners, and the annual return now confirms this figure has been reduced to 41.

“Just in the last quarter, we have had good outcomes reconnecting 12 people back into homes in other areas. This is a positive sign that by working together, we can begin to make a difference.”

Cllr Morse said that whilst the ultimate aim was to end rough sleeping in the city, this was a challenging national issue, with cities such as Bristol and Oxford seeing an increase in numbers over recent years.

In 2014, the official number sleeping on the streets in Bristol was 41, but in 2015 this was up to 97, an increase of 137%.

Oxford has also seen a rise in the number of homeless people sleeping rough on city streets in the last year. During an annual count in 2015, 39 people were found sleeping on the streets of Oxford, up by 50% from 26 in 2014.

“We can’t be complacent,” said Cllr Morse, “We must continue to reach out to those without a home or who find it difficult to maintain their accommodation.”

With weather conditions getting colder, the City Council is looking to open a new night shelter in the city in preparation for the winter months. A potential building has been identified in Market Street after a long search supported by the Express & Echo. However Planning permission is needed for change of use as it is currently a retail premises. This decision will be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee for a change of use.

If given the go-ahead, the City Council will work closely with Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, NHS, Devon and Cornwall Police and local providers BCHA, Julian House and St Petrock’s to offer a safe place to sleep for those with no other options available. A number of spaces to accommodate rough sleepers will be available from mid-December through to 28 February, including specific provision for women.

Safe Sleep is a proactive approach, building on a requirement by government under Severe Weather Provision, where additional spaces are only offered whenever the temperature drops below zero for three or more nights. With the possibility of snow and freezing weather there are serious concerns for rough sleepers as there is a real risk to their health.

Once again, the winter gives providers the opportunity to work together in a more co-ordinated way with this hard-to-reach group. Julian House (Street Outreach Contract) are central to the success of the scheme and are undertaking to work with other providers to help ensure easy flow into the accommodation and support to manage those moving through into longer-term options.

Safe Sleep places will be in addition to services already provided at BCHA’s Gabriel House hostel and the St Petrock’s Resource Centre in the city, with support of the Assertive Homeless Outreach Team from Julian House. The Safe-Sleep project will provide bed spaces alongside use of the City Council’s temporary accommodation stock, where appropriate.

The project includes support alongside a place to sleep with the intention of being able to offer as many ongoing accommodation placements as possible by the end of February.

E&E | A city of fine flats and freezing tents

E&E
17 October 2016
OPINION by editor Patrick Phelvin

A city of fine flats and freezing tents

Recently I arrived early to open up the Echo‘s offices to find 2 homeless people blocking the door and having a violent row.

Both were under the influence of either drink or drugs and, although they moved out the way when I asked, it was a nasty situation.

Other businesses in the city centre have had much worse. Discarded needles and faeces are common problems, threats of violence are rare but have been reported.

In the midst of this we must not forget, though, that we are dealing with some of society’s most vulnerable people. Scratch the surface and tales of mental illness, broken relationships and substance abuse are behind most of the faces we see on our streets.

The Council is keen on developing long-term solutions – and is hoping to go beyond its statutory requirement to provide immediate shelter to homeless people once the temperature dips below freezing for 3 nights in a row.

But a deal to provide a building for a more urgent requirement has fallen through, and now the Echo, with its Give Me Shelter campaign, is calling on the city’s great and good to help out.

Perhaps there’s a disused warehouse that could be converted, an old block of University accommodation standing idle, or a church room that could be used?

I am sure that a quick solution to this must exist, and the fortunate can come up with an answer to the problems of the less lucky.

If we don’t, will be the city with smart restaurants, luxury penthouse flats and £9,000-a-year serviced student apartments for our elite, while poor people are dying in tents.

That’s not an Exeter I recognise or want to be a part of.