Portsmouth Winter Beds Scheme
Late last year SSJ won the tender to run homelessness services in Portsmouth, including a homelessness Day Centre. As part of this new contract we are currently running a Winter Beds Scheme, which enables us to provide an extra 40 bedspaces during the coldest months of the year. The accommodation is basic, with shared dormitory-style rooms and we provide bedding, toiletries, hot drinks and meals that can be made in mug, such as cup-a-soups and noodles.
David Scott, the new Chair of the Board of Directors, wanted to visit this new service and he kindly wrote us this piece to share with you. We hope you enjoy reading his experiences here, in his own words:
A Winter Beds visit
Firstly, a huge thank you to all the SSJ staff who facilitated my visit the SSJ Winter Beds Project for roughsleepers in Portsmouth in partnership with Portsmouth City Council. The scheme provided a warm place to sleep and hot food at one location in the city for up to 40 people sleeping rough over a three month winter period.
As so often, I was impressed by our staff and the SSJ trademark of genuine compassion and rugged practicality.
I deliberately spent some time in the entrance queue, which was an experience in itself, with considerable tension and understandable anxiety to get into the warm as quickly as possible. Many were ‘old hands’ but I encountered a young man near me (19 years) who was making his first visit.
The movement to the inside, on a bitterly cold night in January, happened very smoothly as far as I could see and most people hurried to get a warm drink, or went straight to their beds.
Occupancy was close to capacity, with predominately white males covering a wide age span and at least one wheelchair user. There were also a number of females, several of whom seemed particularly vulnerable.
The Winter Beds staff attended closely to a range of situations and conveyed a strong sense of teamwork and belief in their work. Manager Paul was a tower of strength and a reassuring presence and we discussed linkeage of the scheme to SSJ’s Portsmouth Day Service and the future potential for some medical and mental health provision.
My experience at just one night at the Winter Beds Scheme demonstrated to me that it was clearly vital in providing a life line for vulnerable roughsleepers over the coldest winter months in the city. SSJ is now consulting with Portsmouth City Council and making its recommendations on how the service could be shaped and delivered in the future.
If you would like to help and support the Winter Beds scheme in Portsmouth, we are still very much in need of Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Cup-A-Soups and any other food that can be made with hot water in a mug, such as noodles.
If you would like to make a donation to SSJ today, your money could help us to provide items for these people coming in off the streets. You can follow this link to make a donation to SSJ today! Thank You!
Alternatively, you can drop off donations of Tea, Coffee and cup-a-soups/noddles to our services at 1 Foster Road, PO1 4HL or to All Saints, 2 All Saints Road, PO1 4QA