Blog by Jean Garwood (Walsall Night Shelter Coordinator)

The YMCA, commissioned by Walsall Council, is set to open this year’s Walsall Night shelter for Rough sleepers over the age of 18 on Friday, 1st December 2017 at around 8pm to the end of February 2018.

The Night Shelter will operate from the  building formally known as Electoral Office, Darwall Street, WS1 1AP (more or less opposite the Civic Centre).

During the week before opening, service users will be encouraged to register for a bed at the Glebe Centre.

The Night Shelter will be available for access between 8pm and 11pm.  The Shelter will operate a ‘no leave and return’ policy between the hours of 11pm and 7.30am. Access after 11pm will only be allowed by prior agreement.

Service users must vacate the shelter by 9am the following morning and ALL personal belongings must be taken every morning or will be disposed of.

Rough sleepers can also self-refer, by turning up between the hours of 8pm and 11 pm.

All individuals will be risk assessed and will be required to complete and sign a Service User Agreement which allows him or her entry to the Night Shelter.

Other organisations such as Street pastors, the Police, A & E and other partners, can also signpost individuals to us.  However, please note that they must fit our criteria.

The project is not for people who have fallen out with their partners or parents and need a bed for the night or those who have been sofa surfing. 

It is aimed at those who by definition fall into the following category:-

The definition of a rough sleeper is ‘People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the street, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments).  People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats)”.

However, if someone presents themselves as Homeless on the night, we will assess their needs and suitability, and if possible we will try and accommodate them.

The allocation of the 26 beds will be on a first come, first served basis. There is no guarantee that beds will be available on subsequent nights, so service users will need to turn up on time to guarantee a bed. However, as long as there is space within the building, and provided that it does not breach Health & Safety regulations, where possible we will endeavour to accommodate service users if they turn up within the specified opening times.

The Night Shelter will always have a minimum of 1 fully trained paid worker on site throughout the Night Shelter opening hours.  They will also be supported by a minimum of 1 trained volunteer to every 6 service users when the Night Shelter is open. 

All paid Night Shelter staff will be awake at night and will be available to respond to any emergency situation, for example to instruct the service users to leave the building in the event of a fire or seek a place of safety on the first floor in the event of a flood.  

We currently have 104 registered volunteers, majority of whom are trained in Safeguarding and Substance Misuse.  A rota will be drawn up to ensure there is sufficient cover for the entire opening hours. This may seem a lot which it is, and I am extremely grateful for their willingness to volunteer,  however, we are still in need of volunteers who will cover the night session, between 12 midnight and 6am and the early morning session, around 6/7 – 9am.  So  if you know anyone who would be willing to volunteer during these hours, please do ask them to contact me.

I also have a list of items that we require. 

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

I would also be grateful if you could let others know.

Thank you so very much to you all for your support.

Jean Garwood
Night Shelter Coordinator

T 01922 700950

M 07943 299191

E [email protected]