Housing shelter to open in Hitchin

A TEMPORARY housing shelter will be set up in Hitchin in time for Christmas, to give those sleeping rough in North Herts somewhere to go.

The refuge, which will be provided by Christchurch in partnership with charity Stevenage Haven and North Herts District Council, could open as soon as Sunday to protect the homeless from the sub zero temperatures.

It will open on nights where the temperature is forecast to be below freezing and will remain on standby for as long as that is likely to be the case.

As well as providing a place to sleep, the shelter will offer up a hot meal and support.

But to provide the facility, volunteers are needed to help out at the premises.

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“Thankfully, there are not many people sleeping rough in North Herts, but for those that are, the freezing weather can be life threatening,” said Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC portfolio holder for housing and environmental health.

“We’d really like to hear from anyone that can spare some time to help run the voluntary shelter. If you can’t commit to that but would like to show your support, donations of warm clothes such as coats, hats, gloves and boots are also extremely welcome.

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“We are very grateful to Stevenage Haven and Christchurch for their help in providing this temporary accommodation. If you know of anyone who is having to sleep rough in this bitterly cold weather, we urge them to get in touch to see how we can help them.”

Volunteers are needed to work for various shifts, between 7.30pm and 10pm, 10pm and 8am and 7am and 8.30am.

There is particular need for help on the 10pm to 8am overnight shift, although this can be split up to cover part of the night if required.

No experience or qualifications are necessary, and people can volunteer for as many or few nights as they wish.

To volunteer, donate, or find out more information about the shelter, call Sharon Forde on 01462 474841 or email sharon.forde@north-herts.gov.uk

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