Ordinarily the charity has a maximum capacity of 29 hostel beds but during protracted cold spells where the overnight temperature is forecast to be below freezing, extra provision is provided. This allows men and women who cannot access the hostel to come in and avoid a miserable freezing night on the streets.
10 army surplus camp beds are being squeezed into the hostel’s day centre/dining area. This not only provides a warm bed but access to shower facilities and good meals.
Cecil Weir, the Julian House Fundraising Director, explains that the extra stretch on resources is nothing compared to the danger of sleeping out in such conditions – “I spent a long times in the Army Reserves and know only too well what it’s like sleeping out in evil conditions. I had the benefit of great kit and it was still grim. For our clients surviving with a few blankets and maybe a damp ripped sleeping bag is life threatening. We therefore monitor the weather forecast carefully to see when things are going to get dangerous. It does make the building uncomfortably busy but that is infinitely preferable to our clients having to sleep outside. Likewise it is a bit of a stretch for the staff team but they have coped magnificently.”