Bedfordshire Housing Link enables homeless people to live independently through education, accommodation, and support.
The Clothworkers’ Foundation awarded a grant of £50,000 towards the purchase of a vehicle to use as the Night Owl mobile shelter.
The vision for the Night Owl project was to purchase and convert a vehicle for use as an emergency night shelter for men and women rough sleeping in Bedfordshire, particularly in the rural areas of Central Bedfordshire. There was no emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in this area, and the charity were concerned for the homeless people sleeping in warehouses, barns and tents in the area.
The Night Owl vehicle was purchased and converted in October and November 2013. The vehicle is equipped to provide sleeping space for 8 people, with a kitchen area for the preparation of hot drinks and basic refreshments and was ‘on the road’ in February. Homeless people are signposted to the Night Owl night shelter by professionals, and local people.
The total cost of the capital project was £53,000 and the vehicle has been in operation since February 2014. All service users have been supported with information and advice, signposted or referred to agencies who could help them back into accommodation and provided with a night’s sleep and warm food and drink on the bus. Around 21% of service users take up accommodation as a result of the service provided by the Night Owl mobile shelter. Other outcomes include:
Rough sleepers have a completely new service in a quality vehicle which is fully equipped to a high standard of excellence
Rough sleepers have received advice and progressed to accommodation
Local agencies and charities have benefitted by having a referral route for rough sleepers
Statutory agencies eg Police and local council, have benefitted from an innovative project from which their population can benefit and from which they can learn, informing future policy
The local community has benefitted by having the problem of homelessness tackled in their neighbourhood