Supporting vulnerable people without a place to call home

9 December 2020

For a variety of reasons many people find themselves without a safe place they can call home. Many of the hotels and B&Bs which housed the people without a home during the first lockdown are now either at capacity or closed. Winter night shelters which have dormitory type accommodation and local churches which have housed homeless people for the past few years are not suitable during the pandemic, as it is not possible for residents to socially distance or self-isolate if required.

Homeless charities, voluntary groups, housing providers and faith groups have collaborated with the Public Health Department of Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council to install temporary accommodation in the form of studio cabins for the winter months.

One of the locations for twelve cabins is the unused space at the rear of the Molesey (Henrietta Parker) Adult Learning Centre and Molesey Youth Centre. Transform Housing & Support has successfully operated night shelters in Elmbridge and will be responsible for managing the cabins on a day-to-day basis, working alongside the Molesey Churches Night Shelter, Rentstart and volunteers. The site will be supervised 24/7.

Minimum disruption to local residents

As winter closes in, Transform are working hard to get the studio cabins in place quickly to support the people who need it most. The establishment of these cabins will cause minimal disruption and the ongoing running of the site should not affect local residents at all. A curfew will be in operation managed by a security company comprising of former services personnel. It will be compulsory for each resident to comply with the shelter’s strict rules while they are staying in the cabins. 

Temporary access routes to the cabins via the Molesey Youth Centre car park will be put in place for independent access to the rear of the building. This entrance will enable those accessing the cabins to be separate to the current entrances for both the foodbank at the Youth Centre and the Adult Learning Centre.

We are working with local residents and groups to answer any queries and concerns they have around this project, as we aim to ensure some of the most vulnerable people in our community are protected at this time.

Director of Client Services at Transform, Adele Duncan said the scheme would be beneficial to the health and welfare of local residents as well as homeless people in the borough. “The shelter will take some of our most vulnerable people off the streets and give them some respite during the cold winter months while, critically, reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the local community,” she explained. “Working alongside Molesey Churches Night Shelter we will also be helping to reduce homeless numbers longer-term in Elmbridge by supporting those people who use the shelter to find permanent accommodation.”

Sinead Mooney, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Public Health said: “It is essential that we come together with partners to provide support for some of our most vulnerable people. This accommodation is a really important part of our response to the Covid pandemic, to ensure every group in our society is looked after, especially in the harsh winter months, and are able to play their part in keeping Surrey safe.

“Surrey County Council and our partners are working positively with homeless people, better than ever before and Elmbridge’s homeless shelter is an excellent example of this. We continue to work closely with our partners to support people into entering into longer-term, sustainable accommodation.”

Elmbridge Borough Council: “Our most vulnerable residents need us more than ever at this time. With the Covid-19 pandemic and the approach of winter, homeless people are more at risk than ever. With the support of our partners, we are proud that we can provide the help needed at this time.”

Molesey Church Night Shelter: “Having provided safe spaces for rough sleepers to stay in Molesey over the last two winters, Molesey Churches Night Shelter is pleased that Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council are taking the needs of rough sleepers seriously this winter by providing shelter provision. As winter begins to set in, we hope that our volunteers will be able to find ways to support this project in the coming months."

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