Salvation Army mobilises for rough sleepers as the temperature plummets

published on 23 Nov 2021

As the temperature drops, The Salvation Army is finding new ways of ensuring people are not forced to sleep on freezing streets.

Many of the communal style shelters are still not covid safe, but the Church and Charity has adapted its services to meet local need to provide a network of support across the country, including giving out hot meals, warm clothing, providing access to showers and a place to sleep, plus advice and other outreach services.  

Examples include:

  • In York, the Church and Charity have partnered with the local authority to develop self-contained and Covid-safe accommodation known as Nap Pads. These are ‘pop up’ self-contained units are offering clean and warm shelter that monitors people sleeping inside, and alerts the authorities if the occupant stops breathing.
  • In Cardiff, The Salvation Army will go out on foot from 5.30pm to 8.30pm every evening to reach out to people who are homeless or in need. Access to rough sleeper accommodation and first aid, warm clothing, harm reduction advice, and chaplaincy and advocacy services will also be provided.
  • In Basildon, the local Salvation Army corps (church) will provide hot meals, access to a shower and signposting to other agencies for additional help. They are also hosting a meal on Christmas day (with social distancing and a booking system in place), which is run by a team of volunteers.
  • Wisbech Salvation Army will be offering hot meals for homeless and vulnerable people in the community from 6-7pm every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Harnall Lifehouse in Coventry offering is offering emergency beds for rough sleepers, with social distancing measures in place.

The Salvation Army is also creating modular housing units for rough sleepers across the country with wraparound support to help people tackle the causes of their homelessness. Plans have recently been submitted for the launch of the scheme in Basildon and Southend. It is part of a £12m project and partnership with the developer, Hill Group and Citizens UK – known as the SHC Partnership, and follows the launch of a similar project in Ilford.

The Salvation Army's Director of Homelessness Services, Lorrita Johnson, said: “Living on the streets is no place for anyone and even more so as the cold weather bites.

“The health and social impact of rough sleeping is devastating and we are gravely concerned for anyone who finds themselves in that position this Christmas.

“From taking hot food and support directly to the streets, running pop up accommodation or drop in centres, we are in communities across the UK looking for new ways to reach as many people forced to sleep on the streets over winter

 “Often the root causes of rough sleeping are complex from relationship breakdown, mental health issues, addiction or childhood trauma.

“These aren’t issues that can be tackled quickly and people will often need help and support for many years to ensure they never end up back living on the streets.”

A Christmas lunch at a Salvation Army church

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