Direct access hostels
Direct access hostels, emergency hostels and nightshelters are usually characterised by accepting self -referrals, having no waiting list and relatively frequent vacancies.
In recent years, bed spaces in hostels in some areas have been prioritised for people with a local connection, rough sleepers and referrals from outreach teams and other homelessness agencies. Many hostels now also provide a wide range of support for homeless people with alcohol, drug and/or mental health problems.
A few hostels and nightshelters will accept people at the door. These are sometimes called direct access hostels. But it’s best to telephone first to check that they have room. You might be turned away if you arrive when the hostel is full. You should also check whether they have any rules about who can stay there. For example, some hostels only help certain groups of people, such as:
- single young people
- people with drug or alcohol addictions
- people with mental health problems
- people from a particular cultural or religious background
- people who have been sleeping on the streets for a long time.
A specialist hostel may be able to help with problems that are making your housing situation worse.
Not all emergency hostels and nightshelters are the same. Some are of a very high standard but some are not. Many hostels and nightshelters have strict rules. Some close during the day and you might have to be in quite early at night. You may not be able to have visitors, and alcohol and drugs are usually banned. If you break the rules of the hostel, you could be evicted. If this happens, it could make it more difficult for you to find other emergency housing.
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Most nightshelters are free. These are usually very basic but can provide a place to stay for a few nights and often some food. Some areas only have nightshelters that are open during the winter, usually from December to March. They are sometimes called cold weather shelters. Many nightshelters are set up temporarily in churches, offices or schools that aren’t being used.
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Hostels are usually less basic and will ask you to pay. In some places you may get your own room but in most you will have to share a bedroom with someone of the same sex. Most hostels don’t accept couples. They may have shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms. Some hostels provide meals but you usually have to pay for them.
There are no nightshelters or direct access hostels in the Lichfield District. The nearest ones are in Birmingham and Derby.
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If you are homeless, male, 25 or over and in receipt of benefits you can contact St.Annes Hostel in Birmingham on 0121 772 4406.
You can also contact the Padley Hostel in Derby who provide emergency accommodation for males aged 18 or over. They also provide support and help with resettlement as well as emergency accommodation.
Or call Lichfield District Councils Housing Options Department on 01543 308703, 01543 309709 or 01543 308711 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 12 noon and 2pm to 5.15pm.
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Frequently asked questions
How long can you stay?
The length of time you will be able to stay can vary. Most nightshelters can house you for a few nights while many hostels will let you stay for a few months to a maximum of two years. Most hostels will also try to help you find somewhere more permanent before you have to leave. They may be able to help you get a place in a longer-term hostel or special ‘move on’ accommodation for people who aren’t ready to live on their own yet.
How much does it cost?
Nightshelters are usually free but hostels are not. The rent in hostels can be quite high and you may also have to pay extra for things like laundry or meals.
However, most hostels will accept people without any money as long as you can claim benefits to pay for the accommodation. They can check what you are entitled to and help you with the claim forms. Housing benefit may not cover all the rent and won’t cover any extra services such as cleaning or meals. So you may have to use part of your income support, jobseekers allowance or a training allowance to pay for anything that isn’t covered.