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“It is right to be prepared now”: New project to fight back against Lowestoft’s winter homelessness crisis

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 October 2018

Access Community Trust chief executive Emma Ratzer. Picture: Julian Claxton

Access Community Trust chief executive Emma Ratzer. Picture: Julian Claxton

Copyright (c) Julian Claxton Photography 2017.

Emergency accommodation and specialist support for the homeless and vulnerable will be extended over the winter months, thanks to a new initiative.

The Thin Ice project has been unveiled as part of a community response to the winter homelessness crisis in Lowestoft and the surrounding areas.

It comes ahead of the winter season, and after concerns were raised that more needed to be done during the Beast from the East winter crisis.

The Lowestoft and Waveney winter weather homeless provision was launched at Sams Café in Bevan Street, with a good turnout of people in attendance last Friday.

The new project sees Access Community Trust, Lowestoft Rising, Waveney District Council’s housing team and Lowestoft Foodbank joining forces to provide a night shelter facility every night between November 1 and February 28.

The service, which will be run not just during the period of below zero night-time temperatures but for the whole winter period, has been designed in response to the needs of the community and comes after conversations with numerous stakeholders.

This community response aims to ensure that no one dies on the streets during severe weather and to ensure that every effort is made to engage individuals with support services during the winter months.

Emma Ratzer, chief executive of Access Community Trust, said: “In the whole of the four month period we will be running an out of hours support service number to call, as well as four beds at the Fyffe Centre to house those that find themselves homeless or vulnerable during the winter months.

“We have listened to people’s concerns about last year and the winter crisis, and now we are pulling together with a new way of partnership working.

“I would really like to have something like this which is operational all year round.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “This a great project and I thank Access Community Trust for bringing everyone together to address the serious problems from last year. It is right to be prepared now.”

Phil Aves, Lowestoft Rising Partnership Change Manager, added: “We are really pleased this partnership has come together and by starting early we have now got something to build on.”

For out of hours support, seven days a week between 6pm and 9pm from November 1 and February 28, call 01502 569033.

Rough Sleeping

According to the latest UK figures, rough sleeping is on the rise.

Statistics collected in the autumn of 2017 and published in January 2018 showed that 4,751 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night. There was an increase of 15 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Waveney MP Peter Aldous spoke about the Thin Ice project and asked: “Will the Prime Minister build on the rough-sleeping strategy and provide a long-term funding system so that charities such as Access Community Trust and St Mungo’s can put in place bespoke initiatives that prevent homelessness before anyone actually has to sleep rough?”

The Prime Minister said: “We do not want to see anybody having to sleep on the streets. That is why we have committed to ensuring that we eradicate and end rough sleeping by 2027 and halve it by 2022. That is why we are supporting various projects across the country to do that. We want to ensure that rough sleeping becomes a thing of the past.”

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