A NEW 24-hour city emergency homeless shelter has opened at long last, while temperatures are set to plummet below zero tonight.

The Somewhere Safe to Stay facility in The Salvation Army base in The Trinity, Worcester, opened on November 1, having been delayed for months.

The hub, for up to six people, was due to open in September, but this was then delayed until last Friday with the city council saying the recruitment of eight suitable staff members needed had proved difficult.

However, we can now reveal, that the facility was originally set to launch in August with staff expected to have been recruited and trained between July and August.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request sent to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government by homelessness campaigner Hugo Sugg has led to the release of the council’s original bid for funding, revealing the initial target date.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol has been put in place today, meaning The Trinity building will also be open from 9.30pm until 8.30am tomorrow for rough sleepers to escape the cold.

A council spokesman has assured that the new round-the-clock shelter will not interfere with the emergency accommodation, which is in a different part of the building.

They said three people have so far accessed the 24-hour service and one of those has already secured long-term accommodation.

“The centre is now open for referrals from across the county and we expect it to be filled to capacity over the next week,” the spokesman added.

“Entry to the centre is planned, with input from a number of agencies who work in the front line to help homeless people.”

“The aim is to provide them with secure appropriate accommodation and support when they leave the centre.”

Asked whether the delay in opening in August was also down to recruitment issues, the spokesman said: “The slight delay in opening the centre is down to the time it took to recruit the full quota of staff with the right skills and experience needed to provide a good level of support.”

Mr Sugg has previously criticised the financial management of the new hub, with central overheads at close to £30,000, while staff salaries amount to £175,000.

The government grant was £242,000 and with the current number of rough sleepers in city understood to be 24, just a quarter of the shelter’s capacity, Mr Sugg believes the money could have been used more efficiently.