Homeless get warm welcome as cold bites

A project has been opened today to help support people living rough on the streets of Harrogate, as the cold weather bites and new figures show a worrying rise in homelessness across Yorkshire.

The scheme, called Shelter To Assist Rough Sleepers (STARS), is open seven nights a week, offering warm places to sleep, hot meals, showers, laundry facilities and support to homeless people in Harrogate.

It has been brought back to life in response to a recorded rise in homelessness in the spa town with its homeless hostel now running at full capacity.

Last week, figures revealed a general rise in homelessness across Yorkshire, with York particularly highlighted as a blackspot with an increase in homelessness of 57 per cent.

Scarborough Council has also been urged to act to address a feared future crisis in people living on the streets.

Campaigners are hoping that more projects will be set up following today's opening.

Councillor Robert Windass, Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet member for Housing, said: "We welcome this new scheme to help people who don't have a roof over their heads this winter.

"North Yorkshire this year has constantly topped the poll as the coldest place in England.

"People living on the streets are particularly vulnerable in severe weather conditions and a hot meal and a bed for the night can make the difference between life and death.

"We all know how hard it is to keep warm in very cold weather and the council is glad to be able to support this project which will help people in great need at this time of year."

STARS is based at the Springboard Day Centre at Wesley Chapel House and is run by the Harrogate Homeless Project, with funding from the council, local churches and community groups.

The shelter has 20 places and is open between 9.30pm and 7.30am daily.