A new night shelter will open in Corby after the council has come up with a plan to help the town’s rising number of rough sleepers off the streets.
The authority will spend £130,000 on adapting a former crisis centre in Dorking Walk into a permanent 24/7 night shelter with attached supported accommodation units for people to move into to help them get back on their feet.
There will also be additional staff recruited to help people get permanent accommodation and health care support.
This will be paid for with a £115k grant from the government’s rough sleeping initiative fund.
The authority estimates there are currently 15 people sleeping outside in the town – many of whom are now sleeping in tents in the woodland.
The new shelter plan was welcomed by leader of the opposition, Kevin Watts, who said: “I have had a journey with my attitude towards rough sleepers. That was clouded by meeting some street drinkers, some of whom were not friendly.
“However since getting to know many of the rough sleepers in the woodland – it is not just accommodation they need. It is guidance and counsellling. They need help so they can move on. Many of them work in the woodland but their addictions prevent them from getting regular accommodation.”
The Dorking walk accommodation is made up of three former council homes on the Kingswood estate that have been joined together. It has been empty since 2016 after being vacated by the Safe Haven organisation.
Adaptations will be made to create a 16 bedroom shelter with five separate form room, with a female and male bathrooms. There will also be a three-room flat with two double rooms and one single room with kitchen and bathroom plus a two bedroom flat. The shelter will also have access to three gardens and a balcony.
The council is now looking for expressions of interest from organisations to run the shelter. Charity Corby Nightlight ran a temporary shelter from the former police station in Elizabeth Street last winter and made sure several dozen people were kept warm and fed.
The charity together with the council also helped find permanent accommodation for a number of users, however, its reputation was damaged by management problems with former manager Nicola Pell having to leave after being caught on CCTV attacking a former boyfriend outside a pub close to the shelter. The charity had been planning to open its own permanent shelter in Cannock Road but this plan was abandoned after failing to come up with the £600,000 needed to adapt the former gym.
There is also an ongoing police investigation into £10,000 of money that has gone missing from the charity.
Deputy leader Jean Addison said the shelter must be well managed.
She said: “Once the building is converted and we have a third party to manage it, we will be looking at best practice throughout the country because we do not want this to fail. We want to have strong management of the building.”
The plan is to open the shelter by the end of October and a planning application has been made which will need to be approved by the council’s planning committee.
The number of rough sleepers across the county has exploded in recent years. An official count taken in the winter showed there were 28 people sleeping on the town’s streets. This compares to nine rough sleepers in 2014.