Derbyshire adventure centre will be used to house homeless during coronavirus lockdown

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Derbyshire’s homeless population is being housed at an adventure centre until the end of February.

Mount Cook Adventure Centre in Middleton, near Wirksworth, is hosting the county’s rough sleepers over the winter.

It is doing so in partnership with Derby City Mission, YMCA Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Homeless Officers Group – a combination of council staff and leaders.

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Meeting papers published by Derbyshire County Council this week, show that there are said to be 37 rough sleepers in the Derbyshire area.

Mount Cook Adventure CentreMount Cook Adventure Centre
Mount Cook Adventure Centre

They will be housed at Mount Cook until February 28, and the centre says this started on December 15.

The programme is called “No Second Night Out” and replaces the previous “Everyone In” scheme from the first wave of the virus. This is off the table due to hotels closing during Covid restrictions, the papers say. The Everyone In scheme had been bankrolled by central government.

The hotel-led option was also said to have been “costly” and “could be improved on”.

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The papers say that there are no alternative winter night shelters operating this year and “alternative hotel provision is closing, which is limiting capacity to support the homeless population”.

County council papers say the adventure centre has 36 single-bed rooms available to house rough sleepers until the end of February and that there is the option to increase this to 46 “if demand requires”.

This expansion, the papers say, would use the adventure centre’s glamping pods.

Mount Cook told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the current deal is for 35 bedrooms within the main building, saying that the glamping pods have “not been requested and are not in use”.

No other private guests will be staying at the site.

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It said: “Mount Cook are delighted to confirm that from December 15 they are providing short term emergency housing for homeless Derbyshire residents.

“Working in partnership with Derbyshire borough councils, Derbyshire YMCA and Derby City Mission this provision will provide warm, safe, accommodation for some of the region’s most vulnerable people as we head into the challenging weather of the winter months.”

Steve Turner, Mount Cook CEO, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative. Due to the Covid -19 restrictions we have effectively been closed since March 2020 and it is great that our fantastic centre can be put to positive use to help some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“It is really heartening to have the support of the Derbyshire councils to allow this partnership between YMCA Derbyshire, Mt Cook Adventure centre and Derby City Mission to provide food and accommodation at a potentially very difficult time of year for those less fortunate.”

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Council papers say that the adventure centre enables social distancing and self-isolation to be maintained “which would not be possible in the normal communal sleeping environment that normally operates utilising church halls”.

Referrals to be housed at Mount Cook will be made to the out-of-hours service with 24-hour access to accommodation.

District and borough councils will cover rent payments for rooms at the centre used by their residents through their housing benefit budgets, triggered when a tenancy is taken up. YMCA will act as the landlord and undertake the tenancy management role.

Mount Cook will provide additional cooking, cleaning and laundry services.

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P3 charity, housing options teams, drug and alcohol services and Pathways of Chesterfield are actively engaged alongside housing options teams to provide “wrap around” support.

The county council is paying for two expert support workers to remain at the site 24/7 until the end of February, at an extra cost of £82,500.

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