Rough sleepers are being given emergency shelter at Crystal Palace’s stadium when temperatures hit freezing.
The deal between the council and CPFC sees a lounge at Premier League Selhurst Park turned into a temporary overnight shelter for up 10 rough sleepers on nights when London is forecast to hit zero degrees which triggers the council’s severe weather emergency protocol.
In recent weeks there has been a visible increase in homelessness in Thornton Heath around Tesco where a man has taken up occupation in a sleeping bag. Another man was briefly living in a tent in Thornton Heath Rec, others in the grounds of Thornton Heath Job Centre. However, the police have told The Chronicle that not all the individuals begging outside Tesco are homeless and some have accommodation nearby.
Under the deal legitimate rough sleepers are referred by outreach staff to Selhurst Park, where they are welcomed with a camp bed for the night, hot meal, breakfast and washing facilities.
In the morning the space is converted back for normal club use, when specialists from the council’s Gateway homelessness prevention service and Thames Reach support workers offer longer-term accommodation, financial advice and help with any medical needs to prevent the rough sleepers returning to the streets. This emergency shelter is in addition to rough sleeper referrals who go to the Croydon Churches’ Floating Shelter.
The new emergency shelter was made available for the first time on Thursday (Jan 17), when eight rough sleepers were accommodated. When Selhurst Park is unavailable because of home matches, the council will refer rough sleepers to other emergency shelters.
Cllr Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: “I do hope that the actions and support of our local Premier League football club will encourage more businesses in Croydon to get in touch and do what they can to help us address homelessness. ”
CPFC chief executive Phil Alexander said: “The club wants to be a force for good in the community and we are happy to do our bit to help those most in need. “