City night shelter project sees soaring demand from homeless

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THE Winter Night shelter project has experienced such demand that it has been forced to turn needy people away.

The project, set up for the first time this year, was designed to cater for 15 homeless people each night between December and the end of February.

It was a joint initiative between the YMCA, the council and several city churches.

The churches take it turns to open their doors each evening and more than 200 volunteers provide a hot dinner, breakfast and transport.

But the project has proved so successful that people are being turned away, said YMCA housing manger Simon Green this week.

He said: “So far we have provided shelter for 50 homeless people.

“We have also had to turn away a significant number because there simply was no room.”

The figures challenge the council’s own homeless statistics, which state there are only a handful of people sleeping rough in the city.

Simon said: “We knew there were six people sleeping in bin stores in the Central Milton Keynes area alone.

“We launched the winter shelter project because we were worried that these, and others like them, would freeze to death during the cold weather.”

The YMCA has 15 homeless beds of its own on a year round basis. Now is it desperate to extend that facility to take more needy people.

“We have the space but we can’t find funding,” said Simon.