Chelmsford night shelter aims to keep homeless people off the streets

The number of people sleeping rough in the East is said to be on the rise.
The number of people sleeping rough in the East is said to be on the rise. Photo: ITV News Anglia

In the last two years the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets has risen by nearly a third.

According to the homeless charity 'Crisis', here in the East the figures are also on the rise.

Nationally there's been a 31% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the last two years.
Nationally there's been a 31% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the last two years. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Last year, Chelmsford’s night shelter saw an increase of 17% of people who needed help.

Right now, more than 20 people are on the waiting list to go into the shelter, but until the end of March the city's homeless charity 'Chess' is running its winter project, booking those rough sleepers into a nearby hotel for the night.

"They come here at 8 o’clock.

We feed them, give them a decent dinner, we get a taxi for them and that sends them off to the hotel and they spend a night in a nice hotel.

Last year we did it for six months because the weather was so cold and it went on and on.

Last year some stayed for the whole six months.”

– Jacqui Parker, Senior manager, 'Chess'

The Chelmsford 'Chess' night shelter has room for eight guests. All are given a key worker to help them move on with their lives.

Rough sleepers are provided with a hot meal.
Rough sleepers are provided with a hot meal. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Throughout the winter, people can arrive from 5pm but they have to leave at 9am.

There’s always staff on hand to help. Once guests feel ready there are five spaces at an annexe down the road where they have 24 hour access to their accommodation.

'Chess' has a further 3 houses for people to move into.

'Chess' is currently fundraising to build a purpose built 19 bed hostel. Gary Little has been staying with 'Chess' on and off for several years and says it’s provided a lifeline.

Gary Little has been staying with 'Chess'.
Gary Little has been staying with 'Chess'. Credit: ITV News Anglia

“I’ve been in hospital once for having acute pneumonia of my left lung.

I thought I was going to die one winter in Nottingham and then I came to 'Chess' and ever since then it’s been upwards and onwards.”

– Gary Little, 'Chess' guest

The 'Chess' night shelter in Chelmsford will be open on Christmas and Boxing day.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard