A project to give North Devon’s rough sleepers a safe place to stay during the winter months has been hailed a success after it helped 21 people off the streets.

Safe Sleep, a joint initiative by North Devon Council and Torridge District Council, opened its doors to the district’s rough sleepers at the Salvation Army in Barnstaple over the course of ten weeks at the start of this year. During that time, 653 nights of accommodation were provided to 52 people, with one individual staying for 63 nights. 21 people were successfully housed, were helped to return to family or previous accommodation, or returned to the area where they had a local connection. The project was made possible thanks to one-off funding from central government.

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Councillor Nicola Topham said: “Safe Sleep is an incredibly valuable project and the results from earlier this year demonstrate what a drastic impact it can have on the lives of vulnerable individuals in North Devon. We are really proud of what has been achieved so far and will continue to seek funding to enhance the services we offer to our rough sleepers. We would like to thank the Salvation Army, the Food Bank and the team of volunteers for the support they offered, as well as the public for the generous donations they made while the project was running."

The council's housing team has continued its hard work during the coronavirus outbreak, helping the district's rough sleepers into accommodation to keep them safe.  The Homelessness Outreach team - made up of staff from the council and the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple - have also been undertaking regular welfare checks and delivering food and water to rough sleepers and van dwellers who are choosing not to accept bricks and mortar accommodation. They have also provided a mobile phone to each rough sleeper so they can maintain regular contact. Since the start of the outbreak, the team have placed 17 rough sleepers into emergency accommodation and six of these are now in longer term housing. 

More information about the work of Freedom Community Alliance is available on their website

If you believe you are at risk of becoming homeless, get in touch with North Devon Council as soon as you can on 01271 388870 or email customerservices@northdevon.gov.uk.