A new safe place for homeless people to take shelter in during the colder winter months will open its doors next week.

The Isle of Wight Council, supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), has invested more than £40,000 in the former Barton Primary School site in Newport to provide emergency shelter for those in greatest need this winter.

As well as providing up to 25 rough sleepers with a warm, safe place to sleep and hot food in the coldest months, the shelter will enable the council to make contact with this very vulnerable group of people so it can help find a permanent solution to their housing needs.

The council has commissioned the Salvation Army, an expert in homeless services, to lead the service which will offer much more than just a safe sanctuary for the night when it opens on Monday.

Rachel Lee, the Christian charity’s homelessness services manager for the Isle of Wight, said:

“HOMELESSNESS IS A COMPLEX ISSUE AND THAT’S WHY THE WINTER NIGHT SHELTER IS MORE THAN JUST A BED FOR THE NIGHT — WE PROVIDE A HOT MEAL, A LISTENING EAR AND SUPPORT TO GIVE THE PEOPLE WHO VISIT US INCREASED CONFIDENCE, DIGNITY AND HOPE TO HELP THEM MOVE AWAY FROM HOMELESSNESS AND REBUILD THEIR LIVES.”

The emergency shelter will operate until March 2020 and service users will be able to access the provision between 6.30pm until 11am the following morning. The shelter will be run with a mix of both staff and volunteers.

The local authority has worked closely with organisations within the local community, including Medina House School, to ensure all potential risks posed by the winter shelter are mitigated.

Councillor Clare Mosdell, Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and housing needs, said:

“AS A COUNCIL, WE HAVE A MORAL DUTY OF CARE FOR OUR RESIDENTS AND, FOR THAT REASON, I HAVE WORKED HARD TO ENSURE THAT THIS WINTER WE CAN PROVIDE WHAT SHOULD BE A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT GIVEN TO EVERYONE — SAFE SHELTER.”

Jamie Brenchley, the council’s service manager for housing needs and homelessness, added:

“WORKING WITH THE SALVATION ARMY, WE WILL DEVELOP PERSONALISED PACKAGES OF SUPPORT ALONGSIDE INDIVIDUALS AND PARTNERS, DESIGNED TO SUPPORT PEOPLE ON THEIR UNIQUE JOURNEY FROM HOMELESSNESS TO HOME.

“THIS WILL COMPLEMENT OUR OTHER HOMELESS SERVICES ON THE ISLAND AND ENABLE US TO PROVIDE AN INTEGRATED MODEL OF ACCOMMODATION, SUPPORT AND PATHWAYS BACK TO INDEPENDENCE…LIFE DOES NOT GET BETTER BY CHANCE, IT GETS BETTER BY CHANGE.”

Cllr Geoff Brodie, Isle of Wight councillor for the area where the shelter is located said:

“I AM DELIGHTED THAT A SHELTER IS BEING PROVED AGAIN THIS WINTER, BUT HOPE THAT THIS WILL BE THE LAST YEAR ONE IS NEEDED.

For more information on the shelter, including volunteering opportunities, visit the ‘IOW Salvation Army Homelessness Services’ Facebook page or contact Rachel Lee at [email protected]