Mon, 02 Apr 2018
THE leader of Newbury Town Council’s Liberal Democrat group asked West Berkshire Council’s executive committee last week whether it will consider making its Market Street office showers available to homeless people.
Martha Vickers (Lib Dem, Northcroft) suggested the measure as a way to help rough sleepers maintain better hygiene and general cleanliness.
The town council’s opposition leader claims the council offices could allow access to the showers during the evening, when staff have gone home.
She said: “In order for homeless people to work, they have to keep clean.
“How do you wash and keep clean if you haven’t access to a shower?
“Showers at the council’s offices, I assume, are for staff workers who might cycle or run to work in the morning. They would be very accessible as they are in the town centre.
“While it might be difficult to coordinate in the morning, why can’t they be put to good use during the day or in the evening while the building is manned or supervised?
“If it’s possible, I would like the council to consider the suggestion.”
She also highlighted that people in sleeping in tents are synonymous with suffering from serious skin conditions because they have had no clean showers.
Mrs Vickers highlighted that homeless people wishing to use the showers could have easy access to soap and toiletries through Loose Ends drop-in centre in Newbury, which serves food to the homeless and vulnerable.
She also raised the point that showers at the Two Saints hostel must be booked in advance by those wishing to use them and suggested the location of the hostel is impractical.
It is the latest proposition Mrs Vickers, who sits on the HealthWatch West Berkshire board and has spent time volunteering for the West Berkshire Homeless shelter, has made.
Earlier this month, she urged Newbury Town council to employ a more proactive approach in confronting the issue of homelessness and use its statutory powers to do more.
For full reaction to West Berkshire council's response, see this week's Newbury Weekly News.