Just nine homeless people used Exeter shelter on first night
Despite the opening of a temporary homeless shelter, many rough sleepers remained on Exeter’s streets last night.
The Safe Sleep project on Market Street opened its doors for the first time last night – offering up to 40 beds.
But just nine made use of the project, while the rest of Exeter’s dozens of homeless stayed outside in chilly conditions.
Helen Hoaken on Queen Street
Helen Hoaken, 35, said she had heard it was full so slept on Queen Street, opposite Marks and Spencer.
She said: “There is a curfew too which I can appreciate but I thought it was full so I didn’t manage to go.”
Instead Helen slept on Queen Street, opposite Marks and Spencer, and was harassed by a group of drunken men.
She said: “It was just your typical drunks, a group of men said they would give me a tenner in exchange for me to perform a sex act on them all.
“It’s just typical really, people see us out on the streets and that’s what they think of us – that’s nothing, we usually get treated a lot worse.”
Helen said she hoped tonight she would be able to get into the Safe Sleep project.
Luke West’s camp on South Street
Another person who didn’t make it to the project was 24-year-old Luke West who used to live in Cranbrook.
When the Echo spoke to Luke last month he described how he was coping sleeping outside in freezing temperatures. Last year he had pneumonia.
“I didn’t know that the shelter was open,” Luke said, “It took so long for it happen I didn’t here about it.”
Last night Luke stayed outside a doorway in the now-defunct BHS store on South Street, covered in duvets.
He said: “I think the reason some might decide to stay away from the shelter is some people just don’t want to be inside.”
Luke West pictured right with his friend
Meanwhile Justin, 39, and Tia, 30, who have been camping outside of the same store further along South Street also chose not to go to the shelter.
Justin said: “I should be getting back into my flat soon, Tia doesn’t want to go there though or to the shelter and I don’t want to leave her so I stay with her.”
Tia said: “The problem is because it is separated at the hostel between girls and boys, I don’t get along with a lot of the women who are homeless and I’d worry about my safety.
“I have OCD too, I like to keep things clean. I don’t think I could trust anyone there.”
Justin and Tia at their camp outside BHS on South Street
A director of Julian House – the charity who helped make the Safe Sleep project come to fruition – said it was a successful first night and it would take time to encourage more people to use the shelter.
John Isserlis, said: “The first night went very smoothly but we are hoping to build on tonight, it’s very much going to be an evolutionary project – we will adjust as time goes on to suit our clients.
“One of the best ways we can get more people in using the shelter is through word of mouth from client to client.
“Once people have stayed they will tell their friends and they will end up bringing more people, but it is always difficult with a new project at the beginning as people are resistant to change.”
Mr Isserlis gave the Echo an exclusive tour around the site yesterday; answering questions from the public live on Facebook.
He said they had been touched by the generosity from readers with one woman driving up from Exmouth to donate curtains, dog food and clothing after watching the interview online.
Mr Isserlis said they still needed towels, crockery and blankets and would accept any donations for easy-to-prepare food.
Bookings are now being taken at Michael Caines’s new country house hotel ahead of its opening in the spring.Rooms at Lympstone Manor near Exmouth are available…
Traffic on the M5 has been heavily disrupted by a collision involving two BMW’s.
A team from the Tesco Extra Exeter Vale store donated has donated Tesco gift cards in the value of £100 for this year’s Wonford Community Centre &…
It’s become a Christmas tradition in Devon – but the name takes away some of the seasonal magic.The Christmas Sale of 1000 Dead Poultry was handled by Rendells…
Two men accused of murdering an Exeter fundraiser whose body was found in a wheelie bin will stand trail next year.The trial of two men accused of the murder of…
Bungling cops raided the wrong property ten times in three years, new figures show.Devon and Cornwall police have paid out nearly £4,000 in recent years…
A transformed former shop reopened last night as a winter shelter for homeless people in Exeter.The building, which previously housed Richard’s Aquatics on…
Britain is bracing itself for Storm Barbara which is expected to hit Devon, including Exeter tomorrow.The Met Office has warned that more unsettled weather is…
An elderly woman has suffered life threatening and life changing injuries in a serious crash near the Cat and Fiddle pub, on the edge of Exeter.The woman, a…
A Plymouth website has kicked off because a town in Devon is set to get a branch of Greggs the bakers, while Plymouth has none. The Herald has branded…
A drunk driver banned for four years after speeding at 100mph has been given back his licence because the family business is in trouble.Samuel Joseph Butt, 33,…
The future of Exeter’s former BHS building is still unclear, four months after the shop closed.Talks are continuing over the sale of the lease on the property…
Thousands of Christmas shoppers are set to descend on Exeter city centre today – as the final ‘panic buying’ days begin.
A busy road bridge in Devon is to be fully opened for the first time in more than a decade. The bridge was partially lifted in October, but a problem with the…