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King's Lynn Winter Night Shelter may have to operate at limited numbers due to coronavirus

Lynn's Winter Night Shelter is preparing to open at its new location at the end of next month, but it is likely it will start off with a limited number of beds due to the coronavirus pandemic .

The homeless service plans to open on October 29 at St John’s Vicarage as bosses await government guidelines regarding the sharing of rooms.

Co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick said this advice will have an impact on how many homeless guests can be taken on at one time.

King's Lynn Winter Night Shelter has moved into a new home at the Old Vicarage next to St John's Church in King's Lynn. Picture: SUBMITTED
King's Lynn Winter Night Shelter has moved into a new home at the Old Vicarage next to St John's Church in King's Lynn. Picture: SUBMITTED

She said: "It is likely that we may be starting with a smaller number of beds in the first instance to make sure we are following the best advice and caring for our guests as the Covid crisis continues.

"It is of course also possible that advice may change during the winter in response to the evolving situation in Norfolk and the UK, and we will be able to adapt arrangements here accordingly."

Just like the Purfleet Trust , the Winter Night Shelter will be working closely with the borough council and other partner agencies to help homeless people move into accommodation of their own.

Winter Night Shelter co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick
Winter Night Shelter co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick

Miss McKitterick said: "Good partnership working is the key to helping the homeless and we're very pleased to have the support and enthusiasm of the council in building on the work we did together last winter to offer the best possible service this year."

The council has said a new partnership is being formed to deal with housing related support. The pandemic has resulted in the ‘Everyone in’ scheme and a "huge effort" in accommodating the homeless.

Agenda papers for the full council meeting on Thursday state: "There is a genuine danger that without appropriate support the progress made could unravel, with people losing accommodation and returning to the street.

"The new partnership aims to pool resources to seek funding and seek and secure funding from other parts of the public sector including central government. The new partnership will recognise that accommodation and support arrangements are delivered locally, but that working together on funding and commissioning of housing related support can bring significant benefits."

Miss McKitterick echoed these words with the Covid-19 crisis bringing with it an increase in unemployment as well as other "risk factors" of homelessness.

The co-ordinator said: "None of us really knows how many people will find themselves in need of a night shelter this winter or how the continuing Covid crisis will evolve.

"We will continue to welcome guests by referral or as self-referrals, and to help as many as we can: we hope and pray that we will be able to provide immediate relief and help for everyone who needs it, and we are looking forward to opening our new home at St John's House in just a few weeks time."

The Night Shelter is looking for volunteers to help them welcome guests this winter.

Information and training sessions for potential volunteers will be held with details of how to book being made available on the shelter's website by the end of the week.

The dates will be Thursday, October 8, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 15, all starting at 7pm at St John's Church in the Walks.

Booking is essential at www.klwns.org.uk as numbers are limited due to social distancing restrictions.

Miss McKitterick added: "We've had a wonderful response from the community in previous years and we very much look forward to meeting anyone interested in helping us this year."

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