Charity’s plan to create self-contained rooms for rough sleepers in Chichester

Homeless people’s charity Stonepillow has begun radical changes to turn a night shelter in Hunston from dormitory style accommodation into self-contained rooms for rough sleepers.

St Joseph’s Night Refuge at Hunston Road, near Chichester, has now closed for three months to allow for the transformation to take place.

The works come after research found people can become entrenched in rough sleeping after as few as two days on the street.

Community fundraiser for Stonepillow, Susie Timney, said: “Research has shown a self-contained unit makes rough sleepers feel safer and secure. It builds self-esteem and allows them to engage with their recovery journey in a more supported way.

“The night shelter will retain some emergency access bedrooms, according to local need. Our clients who are most committed to becoming responsible for their own behaviour and substance misuse, as well as engaging effectively with our services, will be offered the 28-day stay.

“When people know where they are sleeping each night, it gives them a chance to focus more on their recovery.

“We have also opened a new housing first accommodation offering six further rooms to house people after 28 days and therefore creating more space at the shelter.”

Stonepillow are replacing the current dormitory at St Joseph’s into ten self-contained units with a bed, wardrobe, sink and chair, and the communal kitchen and bathrooms will remain as they are. The new provision will allow people to stay for extended periods of up to 28 days.

The charity will be providing rough sleepers with temporary accommodation while the work is taking place, which will be completed in September 2012.

Stuart Gibbons, head of client services at Stonepillow, said: “We approached all agencies in our local community in an attempt to secure temporary accommodation for the regular clients of St Joseph’s. We even worked with police to approach local landowners, farmers and caravan parks to see if we could lease some land. No one was able to help at all.

“Eventually, Chichester District Council did offer us four units of accommodation which can accommodate six clients alongside our staff to support them. This has now been open for a while and is working well.”

In Chichester there are an estimated 30-40 rough sleepers a night. Stonepillow is holding its annual Big Sleep Out at Chichester Cathedral on October 27.