New 'pods' to help St Albans homeless this winter
- Credit: Nic Madge
Rough sleepers in St Albans may now be offered accommodation in the form of a small metal box known as a 'pod'.
Usually, during the coldest months of the year night shelter Open Door provides additional shelter space in a church but the pandemic restrictions have made that impossible this year.
Instead the charity has installed COVID-19 secure, self-contained pods within the grounds of the Emmaus Hertfordshire community in St Albans.
These pods help rough sleepers into a bed over the winter months, and contain a bed, toilet and showering facilities.
This project has been supported by St Albans City and District Council, which helped the charity secure a £32,000 Government grant from its Winter Transformation scheme.
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Emmaus Hertfordshire provides a home and employment opportunity for up to 39 formerly homeless people from its community in St Albans and has charity shops and social enterprises across Hertfordshire.
Trustee of Open Door charity Lucy Gaygusuz said: “We have been working tirelessly to make sure that this year we can offer people who would otherwise be rough sleeping a safe, self-contained, COVID-secure space to sleep away from the streets.
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“The Winter Beds Project has always been a volunteer led service and this year, despite the challenging circumstances we all find ourselves in, we have an amazing group of dedicated volunteers who are all ready to make sure no one in St Albans has to sleep rough this winter.”
Emmaus Hertfordshire chief executive John Chesters said: “We provide a home to people who have experienced homelessness, and many of them have slept rough over the winter months. Their experiences are heartbreaking, and it’s unbelievable to think that it’s still an issue in the UK in 2021.
“It’s for that reason we completely support the work of front line organisations such as Open Door, and we are proud to be hosting their winter pods here at our St Albans community.”
This project has been supported by a number of organisations including Morgan Sindall Construction who provided materials, skips and plumbing for the project. Hand on Heart and the St Albans Hygiene bank supplied toiletries and wash bags and Feed of St Albans Vineyard Church and the St Albans Food bank supplied food items.
Help is available to those sleeping rough in St Albans by visiting Open Door at 2.30pm daily.
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough in England or Wales you should contact Street Link, an organisation that connects homeless people with support services. If you think the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, please call 999.