A NEW day centre that will act as a safe space for some of the town’s most vulnerable people will be run by Swindon Night Shelter, it has been confirmed.

Last year, the borough council ran a temporary winter housing scheme to get an identified group of rough sleepers into permanent, secure accommodation.It was a success and will be repeated this year for four months from mid-December.

But this time a three-year day centre project will also be launched, run by Swindon Night Shelter.

Based at the Riverside School site off Queens Drive, it will act as a first point of contact for rough sleepers to access vital services such as mental health provision and drug and alcohol support.

Cathy Martyn, cabinet member for housing and public safety, said: “'I am pleased that Swindon Night Shelter have agreed to deliver this important new initiative, which will provide a relaxed environment where rough sleepers and homeless people will be safe and welcome.

“It will be somewhere where they will have the opportunity, if they wish, to talk to people who can give them help and support and be somewhere where they can meet with the organisations that support them.”

Chairman of the night shelter Rebecca Davison said: “We are so excited to be able to move part of our existing provision to this new location. We have been running for 10 years, operating our day centre and mentoring service at our warehouse in Cheney Manor, and have been in discussions with the council and other services for a while on how to provide a better service to our guests and those in the cycle of homelessness in Swindon.

“This is the beginning of this journey as we look to work with the council, other relevant bodies and local organisations to ensure we give the very best care we can to those we serve.

“Our ultimate aim is to share God’s love and provision in a practical way so that nobody in Swindon is rough sleeping who doesn’t want to be. This is going to help towards that aim.”

Last year, more than 50 volunteers came forward to donate their time to help with the temporary winter housing and volunteers are being sought for this year’s project.

Cllr Martyn added: “If you would like to get to know and help support a group of our rough sleepers, and if you enjoy working as part of a team under the guidance of an experienced member of staff, then you might like to volunteer in our temporary winter housing provision.

“Previous experience of volunteering is not needed. It's about a willingness to listen and empathise. Our staff and existing volunteers are all very friendly. So if you're interested, we'd love to hear from you.”

Anyone interested in helping can contact Rachel Strange, the council’s rough sleeper project coordinator, on rstrange2@swindon.gov.uk.