Shelter open 24 hours

The Dunedin Night Shelter is open 24/7 and ready to help those needing a place to stay during lockdown.

Clare Curran
Clare Curran
That is the message from Night Shelter Trust chairwoman Clare Curran, who said the organisation was committed to providing shelter for the city’s homeless.

The shelter closed for the first three days of Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, while arrangements were made for staff and protocols, before reopening on a 24-hour basis with limited capacity.

Usually, the shelter is open to people from 6pm through to 9am the next day.

‘‘Under Alert Levels 4 and 3, we are open 24 hours to ensure that people who have nowhere else to go have somewhere to be during the day,’’ Ms Curran said.

This required slightly different staffing in the shelter and a reduction in the number of guests, so everyone could have their own room.

Social distancing and face covering rules were in effect for guests, and staff were using PPE.

Demand had been high. The shelter was at capacity on some nights and continued to receive requests from police, women’s refuge and Dunedin Hospital for places, Ms Curran said.

‘‘There is definitely a great need for our service — there aren’t many options out there for people.’’

The Night Shelter Trust would welcome donations of food and money to support its work with the city’s most vulnerable people, she said.

Ministry of Social Development Southern regional commissioner Jason Tibble said people who came to the department for help would have their needs addressed immediately.

‘‘Our role is to make sure people with an immediate housing need, who would otherwise be homeless, receive the support they need while longer-term options are progressed,’’ Mr Tibble said.

‘‘This was true before the August resurgence and it remains our focus during the heightened alert levels.’’

Overall there had been only a slight increase in demand for emergency housing in the Southern region, and numbers overall were low compared to other regions, he said.

Since the start of Alert Level 4, MSD case managers had been in touch with those in emergency housing to carry out welfare checks.

‘‘We are fortunate to have some great social service and support providers who continue to help whanau in our community during lockdown,’’ Mr Tibble said.

Anyone who is homeless, or is concerned they may become homeless, is encouraged to get in touch with Work and Income, by phoning 0800 559-009.


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