The Council is providing funding for sleeping bags and camp beds while supporting the role of a co-ordinator.
Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide somewhere out of the elements for people sleeping rough, when the temperature falls to zero degrees centigrade or below for three consecutive nights.
The Council started working with faith groups last year – but this is the first time facilities will be available every night. People wanting to sleep at one of the churches need to register on the same day with the Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP), co-ordinators of the referral process, at their Day Centre on Valkyrie Road, Westcliff.
“The initiative drastically reduces the chance of people dying on the streets during cold weather,” said Phill Warren, the Council’s Housing Needs Manager.
“We encourage the volunteers who are staffing the church shelters to gather information about people who might be willing to engage with us at some stage later, to pursue long-term solutions to their housing issues.”
Rev. Rick Williams, one of the organisers of the initiative, said: “We will be catering for around 20 people a night, making sure people will get a hot meal, somewhere to sleep and a breakfast.”