Thanet Winter Shelter 2020/21 helps 76 people who had been sleeping rough

Inside the shelter

The Thanet Winter Shelter, which provides accommodation and services to rough sleepers during the winter months – has helped some 55 people into longer term homes following the latest scheme.

The Winter Shelter, which is now in its fifth year, had to be adapted due to COVID-19 and this year offered guests a 24/7 support hub in one central location in the district from November 2020 to March 2021.

In previous years, the shelter relied heavily on church hall donations and extensive volunteer staffing. It also moved locations and guests slept in one hall, which was not possible this year due to Public Health guidance restricting shared sleeping spaces.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Thanet council’s RISE homelessness team and its partners -including The Salvation Army, Forward Trust, Serveco and the NHS – were able to use the adapted scheme to house 76 people who would otherwise have been sleeping rough, giving them shelter, relief and support 24 hours a day.

This was a 32% increase of users compared to previous years and for the first time, guests were offered the exclusive use of a room to stay in and individual shower facilities, as well as hot meals and a warm and welcoming environment.

There were also opportunities for guests to take part in creative and recreation activities as well as bespoke trauma support to build self-esteem and life skills to help them take the first steps in ending their time living on the streets.

This year the the service had a new manager this year with Broadstairs mum-of-three Lauren Oates stepping into the role.

Lauren, who volunteered during the first lockdown helping people in need across Broadstairs and St Peter’s, said the changes to the shelter meant “an opportunity to create something positive out of the nightmare of covid.”

The 41-year-old’s previous involvement with the Lighthouse Project, run by Changing Minds Kent, during the first lockdown reignited her passion for close community involvement

Thanet Winter Shelter 2020/21 in numbers

76 people used the service between November and March

55 people were supported into substantive longer term accommodation – which they are all still in. This is more than any previous Winter Shelter since it began in 2017

34 people who were not previously able to register with a dentist, are now able to receive treatment

18 people were able to see a nurse

29 people were able to access a COVID-19 vaccination

8 people were able to see a chiropodist

11 received a haircut from a hairdresser

13 have now been registered to see an optician and have sight tests

52 have taken part in enrichment activities

3 have now found employment

Only 4 people returned to rough sleeping – despite offers of further support – which is lower than any other year.

Cllr Helen Whitehead, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This has been the Thanet Winter Shelter’s most successful year yet, despite it being one of the most challenging times the team has experienced, and are ever likely to again. The team has been able to provide an enhanced service over a 24/7 period and ultimately help more vulnerable rough sleepers than ever before.

“All guests were given bespoke multi-agency support plans to help them stand the best possible chance of maintaining long term accommodation and 55 have already been successful in that journey, which is more than in any previous year. I’m delighted that we continue to see such positive and life-changing results for some of the most vulnerable people in Thanet.

“It is also very positive that Thanet has received additional funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to enable the shelter to stay open as the RISE Centre until the end of March 2022.”


  1. It would be most helpful if while Cllr. Helen Whitehead deserves praise for this to have her advice as to why I have been totally ignored by T.D.C. Housing etc after a property rented via MILES & BARR being supposedly safe when WET ROTTED FLOORS GAVE WAY, 9th May 2019 necessitating Kent Fire & Rescue being summoned who arrived very quickly unlike Paramedics 2 TWO HOUR delay then lengthy hospital as in-patient, still awaiting maxillo-facial surgery.Being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable as well as being spine injured through effects of terrorist bombing as well as being given NHS CONTAMINATED BLOOD FROM 1970 onwards. TDC attended ultimately to inspect the property after M & B told them incorrectly that they had repaired it-DESPITE having requested confirmation of the report and findings or help, NIL forthcoming WHY? Hope you can explain how being left is acceptable pls. If not your remit pass to whoever surely must answer to this lack of care URGENTLY. EDITOR HAS EMAIL & name etc

    • Dear With Editor, July 2019 is a little before my time, but if you would like to email me with further details I’m more than happy to look at your case.

      My email is [email protected].

      Very best wishes,


      • Not wholly technically correct you were the shadow for community safety in june ‘19. But despite taking an interest in the shenanigans at St.Johns Road, soon chose to not respond to enquiries or give any comment after you visited the place.
        But maybe not surprising given the later blatant dishonesty exhibited in respect of the old british legion, in that instance you chose to liase with the Hawley Square residents but not those living in view of the Legion . Despite the number of objections you chose not to call the planning application to committee especiallly odd given works commenced without planning or listed building consent. Effectively putting your views before those of your constituents and so denying them full due process in the matter. Would you care to comment on the numbers of lifes unfortunates that are now housed in the St.Johns road area , by Paramount either in the hostel or their other units. The numbers are totally disproportionate to the size of the area theycare in and has totally changed the character of the immediate area.
        The curfew at the legion is not enforced. ( not that it was ever going to be).
        Also could the council give some numbers as to what the total cost for the hostel is and to Paramount for all its services to the council?

  2. nice big long list of hand outs and freebies – i suppose it beats working for it like everyone else has too

  3. homeless souls are contractually failed by those who like to have have their own photos on social media.
    whilst previously living in mainland europe the local Homelessness, street beggars, vagrants were given accommodation, work and 121 support. Now they have no local homeless or beggars.
    Ok the local community paid a little more tax for this service but it works.

    It can work here but then the same same photo social media people who have not found a permanent solution will not be in the news and they will cry just like a baby.

    Others will disagree but permanent changes are needed not a councillor applied band aid.

    Charity is temporary !

    • That’s exactly why we have the RISE team, James. They provide wraparound care and support in all areas, including health and work, and it’s looking at all factors related to homelessness that helps to change things long term. I do think that there needs to be a change overall in terms of funding, as long term funding enables teams to plan effectively and become establish; but Thanet has done and will continue to do excellent multi agency work on this front, and there are many committed and wonderful organisations that help with this aim. Very best wishes, Helen.

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