On the 1st October 2018, we opened the doors of the first winter shelter project for North Devon’s homeless in partnership with North Devon District Council. Dubbed the Safe Sleep Service, this project provided a warm and safe place for up to 20 male or female rough sleepers who received a light meal, slept overnight and were given breakfast each morning between October 2018 and March 31st 2019, ensuring that homeless people in North Devon have been able to choose to sleep in a secure, warm and dry place over the winter.

More than staying off the streets

Along with providing a free and safe place for homeless people to sleep, this project enabled individuals to establish and maintain strong and effective relationships with welfare professionals from a range of government and voluntary organisations. This ‘in-reach support’, provided at the Safe Sleep venue in the Freedom Centre enabled homeless individuals to overcome common obstacles to finding accommodation - such as lack of I.D or a rental deposit - and created an environment in which people would be able to proactively help themselves by accessing the necessary assistance to reintegrate with our community and find homes.

Our building was the perfect location for the Safe Sleep project, enabling homeless people to not only have a warm and safe location to bed down but also access the free clothing store, shower facilities and comforts that allow for non-threatening sociable engagement. Our staff, who already have experience delivering night shelters as part of NDDC’s emergency shelter statutory compliance, ensured the smooth running of the service. An additional benefit of holding the Safe Sleep service at the Freedom Centre was the multi-agency housing hub that is based in the same building; ensuring Safe Sleep service users were able to access all the help they might need to move from homelessness to appropriate accommodation in one location.

Over the life of the project, 111 different people used the service, 1857 nights of accommodation were provided and as a result 39 people are now housed in their own accommodation.