Proposals have been put forward to make the Island’s homeless shelter Covid secure.
The night shelter at the former Barton Primary School, on Green Street, in Newport, has not been able to open this winter as it currently only has communal sleeping spaces which do not comply with Covid restrictions.
Those who need shelter are placed in hotels for the night instead.
17 individual rooms
Plans have now been submitted by the Isle of Wight Council to change the current format of the shelter to create 17 individual rooms, with a bed and a sink, as well as an extension to provide a socially distanced dining hall. Communal areas will have the appropriate Covid measures in place.
Documents submitted with the application say the Coronavirus pandemic ‘brought an end’ to the shelter’s suitability and now seek to evolve the provision to one that can be managed in a Covid-safe way.
The shelter, provided by the Isle of Wight Council with commissioned services from the Salvation Army, was opened officially last October.
Two former classrooms were changed to provide welfare facilities and supported 102 people over its first winter, with an average number of guests at 16 people per night. The average age of those using the shelter was 39.
New homelessness and rough sleeping strategy
The council approved a new homelessness and rough sleeping strategy last November to help those who need it and to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets.
In the planning documents, the council say the development of an assessment hub will provide a safe space and allow it to adopt an accommodation first approach. It said:
“This approach supplemented by intensive specialist support, will enable person-centric, wrap-around support to help meet individual needs.”
The timber gates currently fronting the primary school on Barton Road are said to be in poor condition and will be replaced with steel gates that can see through into the former playground.
To view the proposals, 20/01971/FUL, or to comment on the plans you can visit the council’s planning portal.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed