Nottingham has bolstered the arrangements it already has in place for rough sleepers this winter by using the city’s central fire station as a temporary shelter.
The new arrangements were put in place for the first time over the weekend when temperatures dipped below freezing, providing temporary shelter and a hot drink.
Above and beyond this, in partnership with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and British Red Cross, the council has arranged for the fire station on London Road to be used as an emergency shelter to be used when temperatures fall below zero.
The aim is to provide somewhere to sit in warmth, with a blanket and hot drink and access to toilet facilities and dry clothes between 9pm and 7am. A pool of Red Cross volunteers is available to staff it overnight who will be put on notice to be available once the Met Office forecasts sub-zero temperatures.
It will allow Framework’s Street Outreach Team and Community Protection Officers to refer small numbers of people remaining on the streets – up to eight at a time – to a staffed centre.
Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, Councillor Jane Urquhart, said: “We’ve responded to an increase in homelessness by funding services that ensure nobody need sleep on the street in Nottingham this winter, as well as committing to £35m of funding over the next nine years to continue our work on preventing homelessness.
“Using the fire station as an emergency shelter in extreme weather gives us one more option on top of all those measures already in place. It may prove helpful in cases where people are resistant to accepting support but who need to get out of the extreme cold for their own health and well-being.”
Damien West, South Group Manager for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As a Service our goal is to create safer communities, and sometimes this goes further than things such as fire and road safety.
“We’re really pleased that, by working collaboratively with our partners at the City Council and British Red Cross, we’ve been able to offer up one of our sites to support some of the most vulnerable people in Nottingham.”
Madeline Farrar, senior emergency response officer for the British Red Cross in Nottinghamshire, said: “British Red Cross volunteers will be on hand to offer a friendly welcome in a safe and warm environment. We will provide hot drinks, sleeping bags, blankets and emotional support.
“We will also have warm, clean clothes, kindly supplied by Sharewear Clothing Scheme in support of the sit-up service.
“We can also liaise with the council and other charities who can offer additional support to people.”