South Yorkshire fire service to open doors for rough sleepers this winter

South Yorkshire fire service is opening the doors to its Eyre Street headquarters to rough sleepers this winter.

The service is working with the British Red Cross to allow up to eight rough sleepers to stay overnight at the headquarters, with a specialist team on hand to provide advice and long-term support the morning after.

During the winter, the council’s severe weather emergency protocol comes into action when the temperatures drop and pose a potential risk to life.

Councillor Jim, Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety at Sheffield city council, said: “The fire station gives us extra places for people at risk of sleeping rough on the coldest nights, and is somewhere safe and warm. I’m incredibly grateful to the fire service and the British Red Cross, and all their staff and volunteers, for working with us on this.

“Homelessness is a growing problem and extra duties placed on councils means increased demand for services. But through this partnership work we’re able to offer more help to more people, which is what we want as a city.”

South Yorkshire fire service area manager, Tony Carlin, added: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it makes perfect sense for us to provide emergency accommodation during particularly severe weather periods.

“This initiative provides comfort, warmth and shelter for rough sleepers and the homeless and is a clear example of public agencies working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our area.”

Anyone who is homeless, or at risk of losing their accommodation, can call Sheffield city council on 0114 273 6306 during office hours, or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours.

The fire station opens its doors at 9pm on the coldest nights and places are allocated by contacting Sheffield city council on the numbers above or by visting First Point at Howden House. Staff at the fire station will direct people up to the council’s out of hours service when the fire station places are full, so that shelter can be found elsewhere.

Richard Crow, British Red Cross emergency response officer for South Yorkshire said: “We have responded to a request from Sheffield city council alongside the South Yorkshire fire service to support at this scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city. British Red Cross volunteers and staff will be on hand to provide practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.

“The Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours across the UK, working with partners to help people in crisis.”

 Weather Watch numbers: 0114 273 6306 or 0800 7311 689 

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