Night shelter planned for United Reformed Church in Newquay will 'save lives'
A NIGHT shelter could be run from a Newquay church this winter – two years after the Cornish Guardian first revealed the extent of the resort's homelessness crisis.
Andrew Mitchell, pastor at the United Reformed Church, on Bank Street, hopes to open up the building overnight for two months between December and February.
Resources have been made available for the project through Cornwall Council's cold weather provision fund and will be put to use by St Petroc's Society, which will also operate shelters in Truro and in Camborne.
Mr Mitchell, who believes the town has an "inner city" issue with homelessness, said the only hurdle was securing enough volunteers to man the shelter, which will be based at the church's new Beacon of Light Centre.
He said: "We're not saying this is a permanent solution for these people but we need somewhere for them to come in an emergency. If someone is cold and wet up on one of the headlands then it's better they have somewhere they can go than to die of hypothermia. This could save someone's life; that's what's driving us forward on this."
The plan would be to have up to ten beds for two months, available between 8pm and 8am, for people who are "legitimately and genuinely sleeping rough", he said. They would also be provided with breakfast the following day.
This newspaper first reported on the hidden homelessness crisis in November 2011 after around seven rough sleepers were reported to have died in the resort that year.
Efforts were then made by local authorities and charities to establish a night shelter in the town, but funding issues and red tape such as health and safety, criminal record checks on staff and fire regulations meant plans for a shelter had to be scrapped at the 11th hour last November.
Around 20 to 30 people currently use the soup kitchen at the United Reformed Church, and Mr Mitchell estimates there are around 8 people who are classed as street homeless.
"It's not so much the freezing weather that does the damage, it's the constant wet and dampness that take these guys down with chest infections and pneumonia," he said.