A vibrant city on Norfolk’s Eastern coastline, Norwich has much to offer the discerning traveller. From its rich tapestry of both ancient and modern history, to its superb architecture and winding streets, Norwich is a city that’s both well-recognised and well-maintained on both a local level and the wider scale.
A key part of that is how the city is governed, and that’s best exemplified by the city’s local council. Norwich’s City Council is an absolutely essential part of local life, ensuring that crucial services run effectively, efficiently and with the robustness that Norwich’s residents deserve.
Providing integral services such as housing, planning, leisure and tourism initiatives, the branch of local government ensures that residents, visitors and everything in between are able to access the things they need.
Emergency accommodation has long since been a consideration for local councils, and that’s especially true of the initiatives run by Norwich’s City Council. One of the most pivotal amongst these, and an absolutely key part of any local government, is the city’s homelessness programme.
This offers comprehensive provisions for those sleeping rough over the winter months, offering accommodation, heat and shelter between November and March. With such an incredibly important service, it was imperative a robust solution was put into place, including effective access control, patrolling services, and logbook monitoring.
All of this not only allowed for more thorough safety and security for those who use this essential service, but to ensure that it fully complied with the exacting standards already established and expected.
When it comes to providing security for rough sleeping accommodation, there are a number of security and pastoral aspects that need to be considered. The particular client group could also be complex and potentially challenging, with some rough sleepers having a substance dependency which could jeopardise the safety of themselves, other clients and staff. There was also the possibility of theft from both the site and other service users that had to be considered.
Plus, with the project predominantly running throughout the winter months, there’s the additional risks of illness and injury that are posed by the plunging temperatures, icy conditions and darker nights. All of this formed part of what Churchill needed to contend with, and were key considerations going forward.
We quickly realised that striking a balance between quality security and a compassionate and considerate approach for these often-vulnerable clients was the path we had to take, and the one that best befitted the project.
We were able to provide access control for the main entrance of the accommodation. Our guards and officers were responsible for checking in and out guests, ensuring the identity of the client was verified and denying access to anyone not on the list. They were also responsible for the key holding service, escorting all clients to their rooms, and unlocking the door on their behalf.
For full transparency, we ensured constant, clear and open communication between all officers, the relevant Churchill management and the 24 hour control room. This allowed live reporting and a much quicker resolution for any problems that occurred whilst offering a strong support system for the officers, the client and the residents.
We were awarded the contract with Norwich City Council in the latter half of 2020, and into the start of 2021. This coincided with the COVID pandemic, meaning we had to not only adapt our processes on-site and at head office, but that we had to navigate what was unprecedented and uncertain circumstances.
Our team was able to rapidly and seamlessly adapt to the changing circumstances, ensuring that no services were disrupted, and that we complied perfectly with the governmental guidelines. We strived to ensure absolutely minimal disruption to what’s undoubtedly an unvaluable service for Norwich’s rough sleepers.
Of course, as time has gone on and the restrictions we’d all become accustomed to have relaxed, our officers have been able to adapt to, all without any changes or disruptions to the services that many of Norwich’s homeless people rely upon. This is a real point of pride, especially given the circumstances we navigated to ensure the continual running of the project.
Over the duration of our contract with Norwich City Council, we’ve helped countless residents who were at risk of rough sleeping, providing them with safe and secure accommodation over the winter months. We’re exceptionally proud to have continued working alongside the council, especially on such a pivotal project for the city, and we’ve since secured the project for the 4th year running.
Despite the complexities surrounding the operation, our professional guards and officers managed any issues that came up at the accommodation effectively and with minimum disruption. When asked about Churchill’s involvement with the security of the initiative, Norwich City Council commented:
“We’d like to express our thanks to Churchill Support Services for their role in providing security staff to the hotels secured to support rough sleepers as part of the council’s initiative. We appreciate the work your team has done and thank you for your contribution to the successful management of our emergency provision, through which we were able to provide accommodation and support to these often-vulnerable clients and, in the vast majority of cases, ensure long term solutions so that they will not have to return to rough sleeping”.
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