Services for homeless people and rough sleepers in Leeds have reported challenging conditions amid the sub-zero temperatures – with one shelter said to be operating at nearly double its normal capacity.
St George’s Crypt, which in normal conditions averages below 30 people including its 15 permanent residents, has been accommodating 40 people in recent days.
It comes after Leeds City Council opened emergency shelters for rough sleepers after activating its cold weather protocol late last week, meaning 23 more beds are available to use when temperatures drop to zero or below.
Matthew Nice, St George’s Crypt operations director, today said: “We can handle 40 people. After that it’s a staffing issue, it’s not 100 per cent a space issue.”
He said that the service was running at nearly double its capacity but, if required, the service could open up more space for people to sleep without actually using a bed.
Leeds-based charity Simon on the Streets, which also helps people who sleep rough, said that a small number had declined the offer of shelter.
A Facebook post last night read: “Absolutely freezing in Leeds city centre tonight. Good news is that there was far less people on the streets, although there were a number of hard core rough sleepers that refused help.”
Mr Nice said that some, likely those with mental health issues or addictions, may refuse accommodation for complex reasons. Temperatures as low as -3C to -5C are reported for Leeds today