A LACK of night shelters open seven nights a week could lead to fatalities, bosses at Southend’s homeless charity fear.

The Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters are due to open on December 2, but as things stand they will only open five nights a week.

Just this weekend a homeless man died in Basildon as a result of sleeping rough, and now Harp chief executive, Jackie Bliss, warned a similar story may unfold in Southend if the issue is not resolved.

As things stand, the shelters will not be open on Tuesdays or Thursdays due to a shortage of volunteer shelter managers and venues.

Mrs Bliss said: “The recent sad death of a homeless man in Basildon highlights how critical it is to have additional facilities for rough sleepers in place seven nights a week during the cold weather.

“Harp will continue to provide emergency accommodation 365 days a year, but the sad fact is that demand greatly outstrips the space available during the winter months.

“This is why the Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters partnership literally saves lives.”

The project is a joint partnership between Southend Council, Love Southend, Southend’s Churches and Harp, with shelters set up in churches.

Last year the partnership gave 156 people a safe place to stay for the night over the duration of the project.

Of those 156 people, 80 had a positive housing outcome when the shelters closed in March and avoided returning to sleeping on the streets.

The night shelters will remain open until March 29 next year offering support to the homeless community.

John Simmons, co-ordinator of the shelters, said: “To do this we need anyone interested in volunteering as a shelter manager, or any church or group that can provide a venue we can use, to step forward as soon as possible.

“This will allow us to provide the appropriate training and put safeguarding measures in place so that we can ensure the safety of all service users and volunteers.”

To put yourself forward to be a volunteer shelter manager or provide a venue for the homeless, contact John Simmons at shelters@lovesouthend.org or call 07483 82529.