ROUGH sleepers in Gosport will be given beds to sleep in and access to services to get them off the streets for good in the cold winter months.
Churches in Gosport have joined the Gosport Open Doors scheme, which will use church halls to provide the town’s homeless with beds for the night.
Following a meeting on Friday, October 11, organisers say that four churches have signed up.
With some churches opening their doors for a couple of nights each week, Kevin Gallagher from the Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth says there will be a place to stay every night of the week.
‘The meeting went incredibly well,’ he said.
‘Most of the people who came were from churches that are now signed up to the initiative.
‘This will help us to get the town’s rough sleepers through the winter, while also giving them access to services and engagement with Gosport Borough Council.’
The goal of the scheme is not only to get people off the streets for the night, but find permanent solutions for rough sleepers.
In this first year, the Gosport Open Doors initiative will run from January 6 until February 29.
Mr Gallagher said: ‘Hopefully we will get some longer-term solutions for these people who have been out on the streets for so long.
‘This is so much more than just a bed for the night.
‘We see this running for many years to come, and are very grateful to all the churches that have pledged their support.’
One of the churches that has opened its doors for the rough sleepers is St Mary's Church in the high street.
Gosport’s mayor, Cllr Kathleen Jones, is a member of the church’s congregation.
She said: ‘It’s absolutely wonderful.
‘There has been a similar scheme running in Portsmouth for some time, so I am delighted that something is coming to Gosport.
‘As well as the churches coming along there were lots of people signing up to volunteer – God clearly wants this to happen and to be successful.’