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image: prepandemic, guests of Glass Door's night shelters shared meals with volunteers  

7 December 2021, updated 17 December

The staff and trustees of Glass Door have come to the difficult conclusion that we will not be able to open communal night shelters this winter. Unfortunately, despite all our best efforts over many months to plan for a COVID-safe environment in the shelters, we felt the risks are too great.

The transmissibility of the new Omicron variant and the related changes to self-isolation rules were important factors in the decision. Moreover, the latest changes to the operating principles of communal shelters now includes the need for an explicit, written sign off from the Director of Public Health for the area the shelter is planned for, which we did not receive. The new variant is both a health risk for an already vulnerable group and an operational challenge too far. 

What's next

We will continue to do all we can to ensure those in need of a safe home receive support to leave homelessness behind, and we will continue to push for increased government-provided accommodation to be made available for everyone.

This winter, Glass Door will focus efforts on developing our existing open-access services, which include our single-room accommodation project in central London and our busy casework advice service, which operates in partnerships with six day centres in West and Southwest London. Both the casework and single-rooms services remain open to all in need, regardless of someone’s ability to prove a local connection or their entitlement to government support.

hostel manager Ben supports guests of Glass Doors accommodation project in central Londonimage: Ben at the accommodation project in Central London, which provides individual rooms and support to 56 individuals experiencing homelessness

We will also focus on expanding our support to people affected by homelessness through:

  • working collaboratively with our local authorities to ensure guests can quickly access statutory emergency provision; 
  • providing ongoing advice and support to guests who are placed with local authorities; 
  • advocating further for our guests, for example around provision of hospital and self-isolation beds for people experiencing homelessness, currently inadequate at present.

    As always, we are open to exploring opportunities for further collaboration with partners.  

    CEO Lucy Horitz says:

    All the work we’ve done in advocating for the need for night shelters has led to change. While this may not be the outcome that we and many others had hoped for, we are continuing to push statutory bodies to recognise their responsibility to provide rooms to all in need.

    Now, due to our collective voice, government is making additional funding available for individual room accommodation for people experiencing homelessness. And we are strengthening our relationships so that we can refer people more quickly into these services. Where they fall short, we will ensure the voices of those in need are heard.

    If you need support around housing or homelessness, find out how to access services