HOMELESS people who choose not to sleep at Worcester hostels will now be given bedding from two city locations, to keep them warm on the streets.

City charities and organisations working together through the Worcester Cares Homeless Forum have launched a pilot scheme this month with the aim of improving and simplifying how they reach and help rough sleepers.

Bedding will be offered from only two locations, Maggs Clothing Project and St Paul’s Hostel, and staff there will record information about who takes bedding and pass it to the City Homeless Outreach Team who can then keep a regular check on those people to ensure they are safe.

This initiative is launching alongside the new CCP shelter for the homeless based in the Salvation Army premises at The Trinity.

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Mel Kirk, chief executive of Maggs, said: “This is about joining up the safety net. For those who cannot or will not access shelters, and when there is absolutely no alternative for them, then we want to make sure they are as safe as possible.” 

She added: “Organisations who give out bedding and do not inform street based outreach teams or keep records increase the probability a rough sleeper will slip through the safety net.”

Worcester Cares Homeless Forum consulted widely before launching this scheme and soup kitchens have welcomed the move and will not give out bedding during the pilot period.

Many city centre businesses support local homeless charities but some are unhappy with the abandonment of bedding, often with used hypodermic needles, in front of their fire exits. 

Phoebe Dawson, chief executive of Worcester BID (Business improvement district), said: “The Worcester city-centre businesses support soup kitchens and homeless charities so are not anti-homeless. They have a legitimate concern in running their business to keep customers and their staff safe."

In addition to coordinating the provision of bedding, Worcester Cares has also produced a new information card which tells people how to get the bedding, lists the times and locations of the volunteer soup kitchens in the city, the opening hours of Maggs, and the telephone numbers of sources of support for rough sleepers.

The cards are available through the BID to city centre businesses, and through the police, the homeless charities and city centre churches to rough sleepers and volunteers who work with them.

These cards are intended to help get accurate and up-to-date information to all who need it. The Church of England Diocese of Worcester has donated the cost of producing them.

Bedding that is abandoned will be removed and the homeless forum is still investigating options for safe storage or disposal.

Lloyd Griffiths, director of homes and communities at Worcester City Council, welcomed the new bedding scheme.

He said “The city council supports the trialling of this new approach and in particular the collaborative conversations that have taken place across a number of organisations all of whom are seeking to support those who are rough sleeping or homeless.”