Work stepped up at Calderdale winter shelter to help homeless people during colder months
Additional accommodation has been arranged to ensure homeless people in Calderdale have a roof over their heads while a winter shelter is being improved.
Generally guidance to councils is to offer accommodation when temperatures fall below zero for three or more successive nights but Calderdale offers early help when the drop is just on one night.
The Winter Shelter, in Halifax, opens from October, but this year some places will be in additional accommodation while some improvement work is carried out, councillors heard.
Heidi Waters, the council’s lead officer for housing and the green economy, said work will create individual bedrooms for people staying there, rather than the previous dormitory solution.
“It means this year there will be a delay but we have made provision – if someone needs support, they will receive it and additional accommodation has been organised,” she said.
She said the Winter Shelter was expected to fully re-open in December and would be much improved.
How homeless people received support seriously concerned councillors earlier this year when they received the hard-hitting Burnt Bridges report which made recommendations since actioned.
The report looked in detail at the deaths of five men who led street-based lives in the winter of 2018-19.
Members of Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board were debating a detailed report on progress made since the report was published in the spring.
The Burnt Bridges report was very critical of how disjointed the approach from agencies was but Ms Waters said partners including the council’s Public Health teams, Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and social housing, voluntary and community groups are now working much more closely together.
The full solution is not just a case of putting a roof over someone’s head but also providing support services ranging from access to drug and alcohol recovery services to debt advice.
Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) said the report seemed to reference meetings adults’ needs and asked what provision was made for young people.
He also said previously a problem was assuming people would go to a service themselves if available, but that had not happened.
Ms Watson said there was a very specific, separate service for 16 to 17-year-olds and clear statutory responsibilities but nevertheless work being done would benefit young people.
In terms of outreach the action plan built on three themes – prevention of homelessness, improving and widening interventions if a person does become homeless and enhanced support for people to rebuild their lives.
Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said multi-agencies were stepping up now and the point regarding young people was an important one as problems people might have as adults did not come from nowhere – training staff to be better able to respond to trauma was important.