‘I would probably be dead’ – rough sleepers praise Weston centre

Weston Night Assessment Centre opened its doors during the bad weather last week.

Weston Night Assessment Centre opened its doors during the bad weather last week. - Credit: Sub

Guests at Weston’s first night assessment centre said they would ‘probably be dead’ if it was not for ‘life-saving’ service.

Weston Night Assessment Centre (NAC) opened in November and has helped 27 people with 10 of them being placed into safe accommodation.

After the service announced plans to make the centre permanent on Boulevard, service users who have been helped and are still receiving the support have expressed their gratitude.

Centre guest Chantel Johnson, aged 29, said: “I asked people where I could come and they pointed me here and it has been a good match-up.

“They cater for you more here and I have a real bed here and showers and hot food.

“If this place wasn’t open and I was still out on the streets then I would probably be dead because it is freezing cold and wet.”

Paul, aged 33, moved into the centre before Christmas after spending 20 days on the street and was placed in his own flat a few weeks ago.

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He said: “There is support and help here from all the staff and people staying here and it urged me to want to help myself.

“I was a mess, I would walk for miles around the town and would crash wherever I could.

“You just had time to sit and think about stuff and it was a bit depressing but it made me stronger.

“I don’t know where I would be without them. Probably in a box in the ground.

“Everyone’s support, from the volunteers to the other guests, helped me to talk about it and stopped me from walking out.

“Staff would sit and talk me off the edge, cheer me up and calm me down and it is a massive support network.”

The NAC has had a waiting list for beds since it opened last year with the list getting ‘bigger and bigger everyday’, according to co-ordinator Liona Hurst.

She said the programme had a ‘ripple effect’ with some of the most ‘entrenched’ homeless people, not wanting to engage, seeing the positive results and wanting the same for themselves.

The support does not stop at the centre. Volunteers have helped the former rough sleepers once they have moved into their own flats to give them guidance and support.

Chantel was ‘dreading’ being on her own in her own place but knew the support system would make a ‘real difference’.