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The Worcester Night Assessment Centre (NAC) has opened its doors as a homeless shelter, and is offering hot meals and beds to vulnerable individuals in and around the city in the harshest months. The shelter, based at the YMCA in Henwick Road, St John’s, is open 9.30pm-7am daily until 11 March 2012.
The shelter has room for 24 people and is much needed, especially at this time of year. The number of rough sleepers in Worcester is rising; recent counts found 17 in the immediate surrounding areas. The centre not only provides a warm and safe place to stay, its staff - St Paul’s hostel workers and volunteers - also assess clients and help them towards sustainable accommodation away from the streets. Regular users can expect advice from the Homeless Intervention Team to guide them into more permanent and stable housing, as well as support in tackling the root causes of their current situation. Donna King, St Paul’s hostel manager, explained the changing and unpredictable cause of rough sleepers’ issues: “We did some stats recently, and 23 per cent of the people living here were homeless just because of family breakdown. They had no secondary issues, which is quite scary. I have never known that before, and I’ve been in this kind of work for eight or nine years. “
The centre opened two weeks earlier than in previous years to shield homeless people from the harsh temperatures expected in coming weeks. NAC has been known to attract rough sleepers from across the country, and with 175 clients accessing the shelter last year, that number is only expected to rise this winter. Ms King added that their own research supported the concern homelessness was on the rise in the city. “We did the rough sleep count and found 17 people, but there were no familiar faces, so I am projecting there are more than that out there in need of our help”. To find out more call St Paul’s on 01905 723729.