Safe Sleep service gets 36 people off the streets

L-R: Deb Parsons, Safe Sleep support worker, Natasha Rowland, Phil Noall

Posted on: 13 June 2019

A project to give North Devon’s rough sleepers a safe place to stay last winter has been hailed a success after it helped 36 people off the streets.

Safe Sleep, a joint initiative by North Devon Council and Freedom Community Alliance, opened its doors to the district’s rough sleepers between 1 October 2018 and 31 March this year. During that time, 1,857 nights of accommodation were provided to 111 people, at least 36 of whom are now in secure accommodation. The project was made possible thanks to one-off funding from central government.

One of the individuals who used the service is Robert, who describes how Safe Sleep helped him in his moment of need: “After my marriage broke down, ending in divorce and the loss of my job, I suffered a breakdown. I ended up in considerable debt and my life seemed to spiral out of control. As a result, I was evicted from the cottage I was renting and at the age of 64, I faced my first night of sleeping on the streets.

“I went to the North Devon Council offices, where an officer signposted me to the Freedom Centre and told me about Safe Sleep. I had engaged with the Day Centre previously but I did not know about Safe Sleep.

“The first night I attended I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. My morale was very low. I thought I would have to sleep in a shop doorway as I had burnt all my bridges. I was almost suicidal and terrified about how I would cope outside. As I entered, I was given a warm welcome, hot food, a hot drink. I had my own sleeping bag and pillow and a soft mattress to sleep on. It was everything I needed to feel comfortable and safe. I spent the next 38 nights there until I was rehoused into Freedom Supported Housing, which is where I still am.

“Safe Sleep was a lifesaver for me. I seriously don’t think I would have coped without it. I am hugely grateful for this fantastic facility. I believe it saved my life. The staff were fabulous, and dealt with some difficult situations efficiently and in a way that I always felt safe.

“This is not how I ever imagined my life would go but it has given me a different perspective on homelessness and how people can end up in this situation. Every person has a story to tell!”

Service Lead for Housing Equality at North Devon Council, Natasha Rowland, says: “Stories like Robert’s just go to show how important Safe Sleep is and what a drastic impact it has had 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.”

Philip Noall, Chief Executive for Freedom Community Alliance, says: “I know the staff who worked on this project considered it a real privilege to help Robert and many others like him. We couldn’t have delivered Safe Sleep without the support of numerous volunteers who gave up their time during the evenings and early mornings to prepare meals and breakfasts for those that attended and for this we are extremely grateful. It’s fantastic that we are now able to continue supporting Robert on his Journey and hopefully he will soon be in a place of his own again.”

Freedom work with a range of vulnerable groups including homeless people, those suffering from addiction issues, people with poor physical and mental health, debt and poverty and those who simply want to improve their health or improve their life skills. More information is available on their website freedomcommunityalliance.org.uk.

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.

2 comments on “Safe Sleep service gets 36 people off the streets

  1. rebecca braund says:

    Amazing facility indeed

  2. Laurie Hilgers says:

    I love stories like this! Well done!

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