University to reopen winter shelter for Nottingham’s rough sleepers

The University of Nottingham will offer support to Nottingham’s homeless community again this winter by reopening its shelter on University Park.

Partnering with Nottingham-based homelessness charity Emmanuel House Support Centre, the charity will offer short-term emergency accommodation for up to 27 people per night, from Monday 17th October until April 2023.

24-hour support will also be provided in an unused university building, ensuring there are fewer people sleeping on the streets of Nottingham.

Denis Tully, CEO at Emmanuel House, said: “As we enter our second season working with the university, we are delighted to be benefitting from their generous offer of accommodation at a cost-neutral rate.

The Winter Shelter will provide what we anticipate as much-needed respite accommodation for people who would otherwise rough sleep during the coldest and wettest months of the year.

He continued: “Staff along with volunteers have been working hard to get everything in place in the venue on the University of Nottingham campus. The Winter Shelter is not an end in itself, but a means of supporting people into more permanent accommodation solutions.”

Ashley Roberts, Head of Campus Services at the University of Nottingham, is leading the project. He said: “It’s fantastic to be able to work with Emmanuel House again this year and put an otherwise empty property to good use.

“Last winter it was great to see the university community coming together to support the charity, with lots of donations and volunteers offering their time to help in the shelter. I’m sure our staff and students will get behind Emmanuel House once again this winter and make it a successful partnership.”

The university is able to offer accommodation to Emmanuel House at a cost-neutral rate and will be working with the charity to support people in searching for jobs, finding permanent accommodation and accessing other services.

University of Nottingham Students’ Union Community Officer Daisy Forster said: “It’s amazing to see the university helping the community in such an active way, especially when it is such an important time to give back.

Students are a remarkable asset to the city, and I really hope to get many of them involved with volunteering at the shelter.

Last year’s Winter Shelter, which was open between November 2021 and March 2022, provided 2067 nights’ protection for 72 people. 37 of these people were supported into longer-term secure accommodation, equaling an average of 3.5 people a week.

Emmanuel House has operated a Winter Shelter in community halls around Nottingham since 2006. They have gradually become a key service for homeless people over winter. Over the past 12 years, the Winter Shelter has provided emergency accommodation for 1621 people, of which 952 were supported in finding long-term accommodation.

In March 2020 Emmanuel House’s Winter Shelter moved into a hotel under the ‘Everybody In’ initiative when the government instructed all local authorities to move all homeless people into single-room accommodation. Emmanuel House then supported up to 50 people a night. The 24-hour wrap-around support this accommodation model offered proved invaluable.

This year, there will be no central funding for hotel accommodation, but running the Winter Shelter in a church hall is also not possible. Many of the guests have underlying health conditions, meaning guests cannot sleep in one large space where any infection could be quickly transmitted amongst the guests and staff.

This year’s Winter Shelter will cost £1,000 a night to run. Emmanuel House funds the service through donations from charitable trusts, private donors and businesses.

Emmanuel House is currently looking for volunteers and sessional staff to work at the Winter Shelter. Information on volunteering, job vacancies and fundraising can be found on the Emmanuel House website.

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