The Thanet Winter Shelter opened its doors on Monday 23 November in one multi-purpose location, giving rough sleepers access to a shelter that’s open 24 hours a day. The shelter which is now in its fifth year, is supported with funding from Thanet District Council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
For the first time, the shelter will be housed in a single location, with guests offered the exclusive use of a room to stay in and individual shower facilities, as well as hot meals. The change from the dormitory-style format of previous shelters has been accelerated by the need to provide COVID-19 secure accommodation. During the day, guests will be able to participate in organised activities, such as workshops and education opportunities, as well as meet with outreach workers, to stay off the streets. The Salvation Army is once again one of the lead partners for the Thanet Winter Shelter alongside a multi agency partnership including Serveco, Forward Trust, Citizens Advice and will facilitate its delivery – building relationships with guests, organising meals and managing all volunteers.
This seasonal facility over the previous four years has supported more than 150 guests. This year it will be managed by the Salvation Army, in partnership with the council and some support from volunteers. The majority of the extra funding required to deliver the shelter in a COVID-19 secure way will come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)* and is scheduled to operate until Wednesday 31 March 2021.
Cllr Helen Whitehead, Cabinet Member for Housing and Neighbourhoods at Thanet District Council said: “We are now able to offer a safe space to people over this period, and a secure and welcoming base. The Winter Shelter was always far more than simply a place to sleep.
“With the shelter running 24 hours a day, we are guaranteeing safety, warmth, food, and a wide range of supporting activities throughout the day, alongside input and support from all partners involved in and linked to the shelter.”
Winter Shelter Manager, Lauren Oates said: “I would urge anyone who can, to consider making a small donation. This year’s costs are much greater and, although we’ve had significantly more funding from the Government, there is a shortfall. Running a 24 hour facility, in a fixed location requires far greater resources than a rolling dormitory set up in venues donated to us for free. We’d also welcome volunteers who have previously worked with people who may have experienced trauma, and can offer their specialist skills whether that be in art, or movement or education to get in touch.”
Thanet Winter shelter can only be accessed by referral through Thanet District Council and placements will be made by Thanet’s Rough Sleeper Service, RISE. This is to ensure that the facility is used by genuine rough sleepers, who are the most vulnerable and in greatest need of help and support. The goal is to ensure personalised support plans are in place so that individuals can be helped to find secure, long-term accommodation. Work is also done to try and address any of the barriers which may have stopped them from finding or keeping a home in the past. The team also helps people staying at the Winter Shelter to prepare for and find training or employment.