Hull homeless haven to extend its welcome
A HOMELESS shelter set up and manned by hospital staff is set to return this Christmas after it proved a success.
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital, set up the home in the city just before last Christmas.
It was hoped it would decrease the number of homeless people entering A&E on winter months, who ended up bed-blocking parts of the hospital.
Not only has the project been extended, so it can remain open for another two weeks, but there are plans for it to return this Christmas.
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Pauline Lewin, the trust's chief of infrastructure and development, said: "It has been very humbling to see the people using the home each evening.
"We've been getting about seven to nine people in each night and they have been a very pleasant bunch.
"We've had medical staff and cleaners and caterers volunteering there and they have found it very gratifying.
"If you want to feel good about something, volunteer."
Most charities based in Hull charge a nominal fee of £1.50 for homeless people to stay.
People attending the hospital's shelter in Anlaby Road have been surprised to find there has been no charge.
But staff voluntarily manning the shelter will take £1.50 if the homeless person wants to donate, but they will not request it from them.
Ms Lewin said: "We heard of one man who was clearing rubbish for a Chinese takeaway in order to raise the £1.50 he needed to stay in shelter.
"We have heard some very touching stories from the people who visit it.
"One man who came had been made redundant from the Army and had no where else to go.
"Some of the stories people have to tell are very moving."
The shelter, near the main entrance to Hull Royal Infirmary, has been manned voluntarily when it opens each night.
Those who enter the home are given a meal, a bed and toilet and washing facilities in the evening.
Before they leave in the morning, they are given breakfast.
Medical staff have been volunteering and giving free medical checks to the homeless people.
It was kitted out with showers and beds left over from revamps at the hospital.
Food has been donated to the shelter by Hull Foodbank.
Trust chief executive Phil Morley said: "The shelter has largely gone down incredibly well.
"Staff have been very helpful and people we have spoken to have been moved to help after hearing the life expectancy of a homeless person is just 41."
Thanks to additional funding, the shelter will now be closing on March 15, instead of the initial date of February 28.
As well as opening up for an extra fortnight, the trust hopes to continue the project and have the home open again just before Christmas.
Ms Lewin said: "It has been a very exciting project to work on. The staff have found it very rewarding."