A NIGHT shelter for rough sleepers is ready to open in Worcester if freezing temperatures arrive over the winter months.

Worcester City Council, homelessness contractor CCP and Maggs Day Centre – based in the city centre – have joined forces to make sure the shelter can be up and running if the weather hits zero degrees or snow falls.

Based at Maggs in Deansway, the night shelter will have space for up to 18 rough sleepers, who will be given sleeping bags, hot drinks, food and advice on longer term housing options.

Ben Bradley, Worcester City Council's single homelessness pathways officer, said: “With winter round the corner we know it’s going to get tougher for anyone who sleeps rough on Worcester’s streets. Lives can be put at risk, so we’ve worked hard with our partners to agree a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) that means we’ll be opening the night shelter the moment temperatures hit freezing.”

 CCP staff will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast over the coming months, and when freezing temperatures or snow are predicted they will head out on to the streets to find rough sleepers and encourage them to head to the shelter at Maggs in Deansway.

 CCP operates across Worcestershire and will arrange transport to bring rough sleepers from other parts of the county to the night shelter.

 Ross Webber, CCP’s HoPES (Homelessness Prevention Engagement Scheme) project manager, said: “When freezing temperatures arrive the work we do is life-saving – if we get 10 people in, potentially we have saved 10 lives.

 “We’ll have the night shelter open from 9.30pm and we’ll have tea, coffee, sugar, cuppa soups and other provisions ready. We’ll have sleeping bags for up to 18 people and staff on hand all night to check on the welfare of the rough sleepers. Our main objective is to help people to get off the streets permanently, so in the morning we will talk to them about their housing options and other services that can help them.”

 If demand for the night shelter is higher than the 18 places available, the city council will arrange temporary bed and breakfast accommodation elsewhere.

 Mel Kirk, chief executive of Maggs, said: “We are proud to host the SWEP again this year. This is an essential provision that can help save the lives of people on the streets.”