The cold weather provision at Stevenage Haven has been operating for over 7 years; this year is no exception.
We are very aware of whom the entrenched rough sleepers are and our doors have been specifically open to them since November 2016. This is a temporary initiative to ensure that all rough sleepers are provided with food and shelter during the winter months and is funded by Stevenage Borough Council and the Haven. There is no charge at all to the clients to access this service. In addition to breakfast, lunch, a home cooked evening meal and a bed for the night, they are supported by housing and outreach workers who provide housing related support in an attempt to help them fundamentally address the reasons why they have been made homeless in the first instance and to look at finding suitable accommodation. By providing this service this year we have so far been able to accommodate 4 clients into the actual hostel accommodation. When we close the CWP in March we obviously do not wish for the remaining clients to be turned out on the streets on a permanent basis and we will continue to keep working with them to secure suitable accommodation, particularly via our floating support/outreach staff but obviously they too have to work with us! Unfortunately there is a general misconception that Stevenage Haven and the Local Authority are not helping those on the streets; this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Haven is open 24/7 so we are available to anyone in need and we work closely with the housing team of SBC. We also work with local churches, police, health care and other supported accommodation providers. We are well aware of those who insist on begging in the streets rather than access our service because unfortunately and rather sadly they feel they are better off on the street. The generous people of Stevenage are not helping these people by giving them money as this is usually unfortunately spent on items to support their complex addiction and mental health needs. The generosity of Stevenage people are also at risk of encouraging other rough sleepers from out of area; this is only increasing the notion that Stevenage is under siege of rough sleepers - it is not. Please let us do our job and when you see those who insist on sleeping in doorways in the town centre, remind them to visit the Haven - they know who we are and know our doors are always open but choose not to take up the offer. We do care and we do work tirelessly to help homeless people and help from the professional and trained staff is readily available. We can be contacted on 01438 354884 on a 24/7 basis and our website will provide you with more information. Thank you.