A HOMELESS shelter in Bournemouth is over-subscribed every night – even though the borough council says there are only 11 rough sleepers in the town.

Staff at St Paul’s Hostel, run by the Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA), say there is desperate need for more front-line provision in the town, and have recorded only one empty bed on one night since December 1.

Of those accessing the shelter since that date, 98 per cent were local to Bournemouth.

Sarah Ward, homeless manager at BCHA, said: “We can confirm that there is a clear and evidenced demand for front-line provision for street homeless individuals, which currently exceeds the provision in place.”

The shelter, which has 40 rooms, has been offering a further 10 bed spaces each night as part of their winter emergency provision since December 1.

Mrs Ward said most of the people who access the service are local, adding: “Whilst many of these will have very complex needs, we are seeing an increase in first-time homeless individuals from Bournemouth who have been affected by the current financial climate.”

BCHA are anticipating further cuts to their funding this year, which Mrs Ward said will stretch the service even further.

“Frontline services like 10 St Paul’s are vital to ensure that emergency accommodation is available to those who find themselves street homeless,” she said.

Strategic housing services manager at the borough council, Lorraine Mealing, said: “Bournemouth has a well-developed and established co-ordinated approach to rough sleeping and multi-agency working is at the heart of this.

“The council and its partner continue to work throughout the year offering support to individuals who are threatened with homelessness and rough sleeping as well as supporting rough sleepers directly on the street and encouraging them to access various services inside.”

Bournemouth woman Corinne Dickins is campaigning for community spaces to open their doors to rough sleepers in the town.

She said: “I have visited St Paul’s, and was very impressed with the services provided.

“However, what is needed is an over-flow night shelter. It would be wonderful if someone could offer the use of a hall at night. It really could happen to anyone, and it is so desperately needed.”

A spokesperson from Bournemouth Council said: “The direct access hostel is usually full.

“The rough sleeper count is a national method of measuring the scale of rough sleeping. The ‘count’ is undertaken in the early hours of the morning and identifies people who are rough sleeping at that point in time.

“It would be impossible to count everyone, but it is a good gauge, and allows trends to be tracked over time.”