Volunteers to sleep on the street to raise awareness of homelessness and rough sleeping
PUBLISHED: 11:49 22 February 2018
Campaigners and volunteers will be spending a night sleeping rough on the street to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.
Leading West Norfolk Labour and trade union campaigner Jo Rust said the sleep-out will also call upon West Norfolk council to establish a permanent night shelter as one of its strategies to reduce homelessness.
MORE: Number of rough sleepers drops by nearly 80pc in West Norfolk but problem is still growing
In December last year, homeless charity the Purfleet Trust and Churches Together opened a night shelter for two nights a week but this is due to end next month.
Mrs Rust said: “While we can see the positive impact it’s having on the lives of those who use it, we’re really worried about what will happen once it closes in April.
“Homeless people, many who are there through accident not design, won’t have any respite from the streets.
“I want the council, as part of a long term plan, to fund a permanent night shelter as a starting point for people to turn their lives around.”
The night shelter has also run alongside the Severe Emergency Weather Protocol, in which rough sleepers are given access to emergency accommodation and support during periods of exceptionally cold weather, usually when temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius.
Campaigners believe that the demand for such emergency beds demonstrates a need for a permanent night shelter.
Volunteer Emilia Rust said: “This is the seventh year in a row that the number of homeless people sleeping rough on the streets has gone up. It cannot be right that in 2018 we’re seeing more people without a permanent and secure place to live.
“A night shelter would help people who are in need to start that journey, we know support services are scarce as budgets have been slashed so it’s taking people far longer to access what they need to get off the streets.”
The sleep-out will take place in King’s Lynn town centre, outside Blue Inc in Broad Street, from 9.30pm on Monday, February 26 until 5.30am on Tuesday morning.
When asked why they had chosen a working night, Mrs Rust said: “At the night shelter we saw people who were working yet had no home. I want as many people as possible to experience how hard it is to do that, sleep rough and then get up and go to work.”