A night shelter providing homeless people in Burton with a warm bed for the night is to be set up this weekend as winter weather threatens to send temperatures plummeting.
The shelter, which will operate at St Paul’s Parish Church Hall, next to Burton Town Hall, will provide food and a place to bed down for the night.
The project is being supported by Burton Churches and the YMCA and will open on Saturday, December 2.
Paul Laffey, chief executive of YMCA Burton, said: "Our outreach team have been going out on to the streets for more than a year meeting rough sleepers, offering support, warm clothing and inviting them in to use our homeless facilities at Reconnect. We can only accommodate 31 people at Reconnect and are constantly full.
"We felt with the very cold nights coming in and the growing problem of homelessness we needed to act further to get more people off the streets.
"The staff have been working on plans over the summer to open the night shelter and I’m delighted that many people, churches and organisations have come forward to offer help."
The Night Shelter will be open to receive rough sleepers from 8pm to 10pm each night from December 2 and will run until the end of March 2018.
Guests will be given a warm welcome, provided with food and friendly volunteers to talk to. They will be able to bed down for the night and sleep in a safe and secure building.
Additional volunteers will arrive at 6am and prepare breakfast for those sleeping over and the church hall will be vacated by 8am.
With funding support from Consolidated Charity of Burton upon Trent and local churches, the YMCA has been able to appoint two temporary night staff to oversee the project.
Reverend Stanley Monkhouse, vicar of St Aidan’s and St Paul’s, said: "The parochial church council and I are delighted to give our backing to the Burton night shelter at St Paul’s. The hall appears to meet the needs for this great community project.
"We hosted an open evening for volunteers to come forward for training and it was heartening to see how many people stepped up to give freely of time and skills.
"It's my intention to go along a couple of nights a week to chat to the guests and volunteers, and also to go along some mornings to support this venture.
"Life is difficult for an increasing number of people and if we can do something practical to help the homeless we will regard it as a great privilege, and indeed a duty."
Daryl Williams, minister of Riverside Church and chairman of Burton Churches Together, said: "Homelessness has been on the rise, and we’ve sadly been seeing too many homeless people sleep outside church doorways and around the town.
"The YMCA do a terrific job in supporting many homeless people in the community, but there is a need now for us to do more together.
"Burton Churches has been working effectively with the YMCA in seeking funding for a Burton night shelter, recruiting staff and volunteers.
"We jointly hosted a public meeting and were thrilled with the response particularly with people coming forward to support the project.
"We are grateful to Consolidated Charity of Burton upon Trent for providing a grant to get the shelter launched.
"Several churches have committed to taking a special collection during their carol services over Christmas, and the proceeds will be donated to support the night shelter. We are very thankful for all the volunteers that have so far come forward."
There is a further need for more volunteers to work overnight at the project. If anyone is interested in giving some time to support this vital project they can phone Jill Gossling on 01283 538802 or email email@example.com
If you see anyone rough sleeping please refer them to the night shelter by contacting the YMCA Reconnect services on 01283 547211 or email Reconnect@burtonymca.org