A NEW £1.8m homeless shelter for rough sleepers in Oxford is now ready to open next month.

Oxford Direct Services is completing the conversion of the former job centre in Floyds Row off St Aldate's into an assessment hub and shelter and handed over the first phase of the project to the city council on Friday.

Homelessness charity St Mungo’s will be running services and is now preparing to open the new shelter.

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Work needed before Floyds Row can open includes a health and safety check, installing furniture and fittings and staff training.

Oxford Mail:

Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: "Floyds Row is at the heart of our transformation plans and I’m delighted that ODS have completed the first phase of construction.

"St Mungo’s will be running all services at Floyds Row on our behalf and they’re already starting the work needed to open next month.

"Somewhere Safe to Stay, the winter shelter and SWEP (severe weather emergency protocol) will all move from Simon House in the first half of January.

Oxford Mail:

"We believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and the best way to help someone experiencing rough sleeping is to get them to come inside and find the support they need to rebuild their lives.

"That means getting things right from the first conversation as this has a massive impact in helping people off the streets.

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"At Floyds Row that first conversation will take place inside rather than in the cold on the street, and dedicated support services will be immediately on hand to help.

"St Mungo’s has experience of running similar services in London and the south of England and its expertise has seen up to four fifths of people leaving the streets behind for good.

Oxford Mail:

“Floyds Row represents a fundamental change to front end homelessness services and winter accommodation in Oxford."

Ms Smith added that the council was working with colleagues in other councils, St Mungo’s, Crisis, Homeless Oxfordshire, Turning Point, A2Dominion, Luther Street Medical Centre and other homelessness service providers to deliver the project.

Oxford Mail:

She added; "Floyds Row will be a catalyst for change across the wider system.”

Three services running on an interim basis at Simon House will transfer to Floyds Row when it opens in early January.

These include:

•Somewhere Safe to Stay offers beds for up to seven nights to people at risk of rough sleeping and new rough sleepers while they participate in an intensive 'right first time' assessment that identifies suitable housing and links them with the other support they need to leave homelessness behind

•In November, the council opened a winter shelter open to anyone experiencing rough sleeping – whether or not they have a local connection or recourse to public funds

•Emergency beds for anyone who wants to come inside during severe winter weather.

These open when the council activates its severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) on a Met Office forecast of an overnight temperature of zero or below.

The council expects Floyds Row to be fully open in April 2020.

Oxford Mail:

At full capacity, it will provide assessment services and shelter for up to 56 people.

Somewhere Safe to Stay and the winter-long shelter will provide up to 20 and 16 beds respectively.

There will be another 20 'staging post beds' for people who have been assessed by Somewhere Safe to Stay and need more time to move on to other accommodation.

Churches in Oxford are also providing a winter night shelter from January to March.

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Services currently provided at the multi-agency hub in Bonn Square will also transfer to Floyds Row in April.

Oxford Homeless Movement is a partnership of the many organisations working to ensure that no one has to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford.

It is hoping to raise £150,000 through a Christmas Match Fund for charities helping people rough sleeping and to deliver new services reducing homelessness. The fund is backed by the Oxford Mail and Floyds Row is a beneficiary of this fundraising campaign.

Until January 6, Oxfordshire Community Foundation is pledging to match any donation to Oxford Homeless Movement through the match fund.

Oxford Mail:

OCF’s pledge to double the difference will apply to both one-off and repeat donations made during the Christmas period.

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When eligible for Gift Aid, a typical £30 donation will be worth £67.50 to beneficiaries of the Christmas match fund.

You can donate online at www.oxfordhomelessmovement.org.uk/donate or by sending a cheque to Oxford Homeless Movement, PO Box 941, Oxford OX1 9TQ.