In principle, we believe that everything should be done to ensure that people have a safe space to sleep in extreme weather. However, night shelters have always been an immediate, emergency response and are not long-term solutions.
Thanks to MHCLG funding and the City Council’s provision of hotels and other interim support that has been extended until spring 2021, in theory, there should be enough accommodation in Oxfordshire to mitigate the need for SWEP stays this winter.
As a COVID-secure safe space, we must also bear in mind the need to protect our clients and staff, which is why we insist that all referrals coming to our hostel are tested. This is so that we can continue to provide uninterrupted support to our clients and ensure that we can operate at full capacity.
We fiercely support the idea that people should have access to safe spaces and we can see the good sentiment behind the plans to re-open night-shelters; however, we believe that true systemic change is needed to provide longer-term solutions as opposed to offering a space on a floor for the night.
This post was written in response to the BBC article published on 13th October 2020.