The conversion of a Weston drop-in centre to a night assessment centre for the homeless could soon be underway, as plans have been submitted this week.
An increase in homelessness in Weston in the past year has prompted 18 charities, churches and voluntary groups to work together to offer somewhere for people to stay at night.
Weston Town Council has pledged £25,000 for a night assessment centre to open at Somewhere To Go, in the Boulevard.
Project leaders have applied to North Somerset Council for permission to keep it as a daytime drop-in centre but also to provide a night assessment centre (NAC) for emergency accommodation for up to 10 homeless people.
Documents submitted with the application say: “Our guests are referred to us by the agencies which already assist in identifying those who are sleeping rough in Weston super Mare, such as YMCA. St Mungos, Weston street wardens and street pastors.
“They will carry out an initial assessment and contact the NAC co-ordinator to reserve a place.
“The team looks at any support issues as part of the assessment which includes drug and alcohol use, mental health and history of offending.
“In the case of clients with complex needs and who are confirmed street homeless, the team discuss the referral with a manager and co-ordinator at Weston NAC and decide on the best course of action together.”
The assessment centre would give people who are sleeping rough a safe place to stay overnight.
However, this will also provide an opportunity for a care plan to be developed to help them back into accommodation.
They will also be signposted to other services and shown where they can get food and clothes.
The documents say: “Some individuals will have complex needs which will take professional assistance from the on-site NHS staff and visiting Citizens Advice Bureau and mental health teams.
“In time this facility will build trust with the homeless community and hopefully they will take the assistance offered.”
If approved, doors would open at 9pm, but no-one would be allowed to leave or enter after 10pm. Volunteers will all receive training.
Central ward councilor Richard Nightingale said: “This planning application is the next positive step in consulting with residents and updating them with progress.”
He said the scheme would go a long way to offering homeless people support.
(With thanks to Weston Mercury for the article)