Newquay night shelter aims to stop deaths on the street
A NIGHT shelter for the homeless has opened in Newquay in a bid to ensure there are no more deaths on its streets this winter.
Despite a series of setbacks, the refuge opened at St Michael's Church on Sunday.
The plan had been to open at the new Beacon of Light Centre at the United Reformed Church on Bank Street, but work was not completed in time.
The Reverend Canon Michael Adams then stepped in to offer St Michael's Church as an alternative venue.
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It had been feared that a lack of trained volunteers could jeopardise plans for the shelter, which is run by homelessness charity St Petroc's Society and has to be manned through the night.
However, operations manager Richard Bryant said he and his team had worked hard to find and train volunteers to work at the shelter – as well as one in Camborne – for the next two months.
"We're very pleased and very lucky that St Michael's has stepped in," he said.
"I personally helped train more than 60 volunteers over four days of solid work so we're good to go.
"We have a wonderfully wide variety of people.
"St Petroc's would like to thank the people of Newquay for allowing this to happen in their community."
The shelter in Newquay offered overnight refuge for 'low-risk' people simply looking to bed down for the night. Higher-risk people who turned up at the shelter would be transferred to the charity's Truro HQ for specialist help.
The project has received support from Cornwall Council's cold-weather fund and will provide room for up to ten people, bringing to 35 the number of beds offered in St Petroc's immediate access facilities in Newquay, Truro and Camborne.
It offers toilet facilities, tea and coffee, a simple supper, sleeping bags and bedding – "the bare necessities of life," said Mr Bryant.
He said Newquay had been chosen as a location for a night shelter as historically it had been considered a rough-sleeping hotspot.
Having two satellite facilities to complement the Truro base was a crucial step forward in terms of protecting homeless people in Cornwall, he said.
"We wanted to do it on a small scale this year and if it's successful we can expand it next year and even expand to other areas," Mr Bryant said.
The Cornish Guardian first reported on Newquay's hidden homelessness crisis in November 2011, following reports of around seven rough sleepers dying 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 rules, criminal record checks on staff and fire regulations meant plans had to be scrapped at the eleventh hour last November.