Freezing conditions lead to extended rough sleeper support


Extended services are to be put in place for rough sleepers in Canterbury as the extreme weather continues into early March.

The city council has been in urgent discussions with homeless charities in the city over the last two days, as Catching Lives’ winter night shelter ​will close after today (Wednesday 28 February). Catching Lives also operates the council-funded Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

As a result, ​SWEP will be continuing into next week​ and extended into two church halls, St Paul’s and St Thomas’, as well as​ using some space​ at Catching Lives’ site. This approach will give a total of 47 beds​ and will be fully funded by the city council.

Anyone who wants a bed space should go to Catching Lives’ daycentre, not to the churches, ​at 8pm, where they will be provided with a hot meal and allocated a space. Should more than 47 people approach for shelter, Canterbury Mosque has offered to provide accommodation for the extras.

Catching Lives, Porchlight and Canterbury’s Street Pastors will now be out and about spreading the word across the city to ensure any rough sleeper who wants to receive help can access the support they need.

Council Leader Cllr Simon Cook said: “We are seeing unseasonably cold weather at the moment, and the worst of the temperatures are actually forecast for Thursday – the day after the night shelter close​s​. It was imperative, therefore, that extra provision was put in place and I am delighted we have been able to arrange it.

“It would not be possible to pull this together at such short notice without the hard work of Catching Lives, the two churches and our own officers and I would like to thank all those involved. It’s fantastic to see such close joint working on this vital issue, as well as on homelessness and rough sleeping all year round.”