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My Norwich

Breaking the cycle of homelessness this winter

Published on Wednesday, 1st December 2021

People sleeping rough in Norwich will have access to a range of specialist support this winter, including a winter shelter and two new projects commissioned by Norwich City Council.

Sometimes people need more than just a roof over their head. Working with partner organisations from Pathways Norwich, the city’s innovative outreach team, the council has secured government funding to extend both the support and accommodation options available.

Meaningful food provision

Food poverty is closely linked to rough sleeping, so it is vital that food provision takes place in a safe and supportive environment. Indoor food provision is now available seven days week through local social enterprise, The Feed’s ‘Nourish’ service, initiated by the city council.

Running from the city centre, this service also offers support that can help anyone using it to take steps into accommodation. Nourish has already served 1,500 meals to more 150 people since it began in April. This has been made possible with the help of generous volunteers, some of whom have previous experience of homelessness. Read Ellie’s story.

A safe place to sleep

The ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ service has been created to provide space to sleep to those who need it while their accommodation needs are assessed. Managed by St Martins, this hub is designed to for short stays with specialist staff on hand. Since launching in April, 60 individuals who would have otherwise been sleeping outside have made use of this service.

Preparing for winter

A winter night shelter will run from late November until the end of March in partnership with local churches who have offered to open their facilities alongside other agencies providing operational support outside of their usual working commitments.

As always, further emergency beds will be made available if the temperature is forecast to drop to zero or below for three consecutive days – something which triggers the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

Councillor Cate Oliver, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping said: “No one should have to face the prospect of sleeping outside at any time of year, and we are committed to making sure that anyone finding themselves in this position can access the help they need to find a safe place to stay.

“These initiatives show the powerful way local authorities can make a real difference to their communities with tailored services which utilise local experts – when given the resources needed to do so.

“Projects like this often depend on the good will of volunteers as well as the organisers, and I am looking forward to playing my small part by helping out at the winter shelter this year.”

Long term prevention

The city council is also part of the Norfolk Homelessness Strategic Partnership which was set up as a legacy of the ‘Everybody In’ initiative used at the start of the pandemic. Chaired by Stephen Evans, Norwich City Council’s chief executive, the partnership brings together local authorities, housing providers and other key organisations across Norfolk to work together to address the causes of homelessness.

If people are concerned about someone sleeping rough, this can be reported by the national StreetLink website or app at any time. However, if you think there is immediate danger to the health of a rough sleeper, please call 999.

To find out more about volunteering at the winter shelter, email 

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