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Norwich church opens door to homeless for three nights

St Peter Mancroft in Norwich opened its doors last night – and for the next couple of nights – to rough sleepers as the city suffers from widespread snow and ice.

Report from Network Norwich & Norfolk:

The ‘Beast from the East’ brought more than 20cm of snow to areas across the county, causing chaos to road and rail. Norwich City Council activated its Severe Weather Emergency Procedure (SWEP) last week after temperatures failed to rise above freezing for three nights in a row. It means between 13 and 15 extra beds are available each night, and the city council has said they have found beds for 33 rough sleepers since Friday.

Jan Sheldon, chief executive officer at of St Martins, said: “An outreach team goes out three or four times a week to let rough sleepers know about our services, not just when SWEP is activated.

“It involves many different groups so for example people who may be having breakfast at Arc on Pottergate, run by the Salvation Army, they will be informed that SWEP is in place.”

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: “We have found beds for 33 rough sleepers since Friday. We are working with St Peter Mancroft, partner agencies and volunteers to provide shelter and additional beds in the church.”

St Peter Mancroft church is open to those who need hot food and a bed between 8pm and 8am until Saturday. Eric Hewson, who has been co-ordinating the effort at the church said, "Wow! The support today has been amazing – stressful but worth it. My phone has been going off like a call centre with so many wonderful people wanting to help – so a massive 'thank you'."

Norwich City council provided sleeping bags and the Salvation Army have also been assisting. Anyone who encounters people who are homeless and rough sleeping is urged to notify the city council by emailing roughsleepers@norwich.gov.uk

For emergency assistance with finding accommodation call 0344 980 33 33. A website called Street Link allows anyone to alert local authorities and charities in England to rough sleepers in their area. 

Main Photo: Breakfast being cooked this morning (March 1) at St Peter Mancroft Church

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