ROYTON councillor Hannah Roberts has reaffirmed Oldham Council’s commitment to reducing the number of rough sleepers in the town after visiting a recently opened winter night shelter.
The facilities at Oldham Community fire station on Lees Road has been opened by homelessness charity Depaul UK.
People seeking refuge at the shelter, opened as part of the A Bed Every Night initiative, will have access to shower facilities, a hot meal and hot drinks from 9pm to 9am every night.
Camp beds, sleeping bags and toiletries have also been provided.
Cllr Roberts, OMBC’s Cabinet Member for Housing, attended an open house event at the night shelter with Oldham Fire Station Manager Tony Morgan, as well as Oldham councillor Peter Davies, who was representing Oldham Street Angels.
“Absolutely no-one should have to spend the night in the streets, especially at this time of the year when temperatures are dropping to below zero,” she said.
“We’re committed to doing all we can to make sure no one has to live like this and this shelter is one example of our commitment to ensuring no one has to sleep rough.
“We’re proud to support the Greater Manchester-wide A Bed Every Night initiative and this is already having a positive impact.
“We’ve already seen 30 different homeless people access this shelter and six of them are now in either permanent or temporary accommodation.
“However, it sadly highlights the scale of the crisis we’re facing and whilst proving a bed every night for people who desperately need it is the right thing to do, we need to look at how we stop people from falling into this situation in the first place.
“As a council we’re working hard to create more job opportunities, a thriving economy, more affordable housing and making sure those in work are paid fairly.”
Alexia Murphy, Depaul UK executive director of operations, said: “We are pleased to be able to open this crucial service in Oldham and are extremely grateful for the support we have received from Oldham Council and the ‘A Bed Every Night’ initiative.
“We wouldn’t be able to provide the necessary support to people who would be otherwise sleeping rough without collaboration from local services.
“We expect that demand for this service will continue to grow as the days get shorter and the winter gets colder.
“Beyond providing a warm bed for the night, this service can make a difference to a person’s longer term success by supporting and signposting them to the necessary services.
“Links with local organisations have meant that we have been able to provide necessary support with health, housing and benefits.
“We’ve even managed to rehouse one person already.”
People are expected to sleep at the shelter for a maximum of three weeks before they are rehoused or placed in more permanent accommodation.
Depaul UK is also using the shelter as a way of signposting those who use it to other services and organisations which can help, including a local GP surgery.
People are referred to the Depaul shelter by Oldham Council, First Choice Homes and Oldham Street Angels.
It is located at the rear of the fire station, within their grounds. Depaul UK is using the old training rooms which have not been used for four years.