After six weeks of running the Safe Sleep service – North Devon’s first all-weather winter provision for rough sleepers commissioned by and run in partnership with North Devon Council (NDC) – eight people have been found appropriate accommodation and no longer need to use our winter night service.

Safe Sleep began on October 1st of this year with the aim of preventing winter deaths and connecting rough sleeping individuals to the right services that address their accommodation needs along with any other issues which may exacerbate or be a root cause of them becoming homeless in the first place. Each night since the beginning of October, we have opened our doors at the Freedom Centre to provide a warm, safe and secure place for people to be served a healthy meal, establish and maintain effective relationships with appropriate professionals, and bed down for the night.

Throughout this period, 46 different individuals have used the service with an average of ten people arriving each evening. Our busiest night saw 17 people arrive cold and hungry, 14 of whom stayed for the night and had breakfast with us the next morning. This makes for 437 safe nights’ sleeps over the past six weeks!

Volunteers make a difference

Work at Safe Sleep, including cooking and serving meals, and setting up the area for sleeping has been supported by 11 volunteers who have given up their mornings or evenings to ensure the project is a success and enable trained staff to work with service users. The work of our volunteers is invaluable and has most certainly contributed to the smooth running of the provision. We still have a number of volunteer roles available with Safe Sleep – six kitchen volunteers for the morning and eight for the evening would allow volunteers to work in pairs and give specialist staff more time to work on a one to one basis with the service users.

 

Moving forward to brighter futures

With eight people already in homes they can call their own and a further three people due to move into appropriate accommodation any day now, we believe the service is already meeting NDC’s strategic approach to the rough sleeper service, provided by the Rough Sleeper Outreach Team, by moving individuals on from their dire circumstances to much brighter and more secure futures. By putting individuals in touch with specialist support, work through our Day Centre, and sharing the knowledge learned from this experience with the multi-agency group known as the Northern Devon Hub, we are becoming even better equipped to develop ever more effective interventions that reduce rough sleeping, mitigate chronic homelessness and even prevent it for occurring in the first place.

We could not have hoped for a better start to the Safe Sleep service and are exceptionally grateful to NDC for commissioning this work and all who have helped to make this a success. We will continue to provide a safe and secure place for rough sleepers to turn their lives around in over the coming winter and all the way up until Spring next year. This project is not only the first all-weather provision of its kind in North Devon, but we believe it is also one of the most effective responses to rough sleeping in our area for many years.