More beds are going to be available at a homeless shelter during the cold winter months.

An extra five beds, funded by St Albans City and District Council, will be available for rough sleepers at Open Door, Bricket Road.

A temporary dormitory has been set up in the reception area in order to provide the extra beds, which will be available every night until the end of March as part of the council’s severe weather emergency provision.

Councillor Jacqui Taylor, portfolio holder for housing, inclusion and protection, said: “Making sure that the extra beds are available throughout the winter is a progressive step.

“I am delighted we are committed to offering rough sleepers this help every winter night. In the past, it was only provided during snow falls or when the feel-like temperature was forecast to drop below freezing point for three days in a row.

“This is a major improvement and we are working closely with charities, housing groups and other partners to see what additional measures we can introduce to deal with the complex challenges of rough sleeping and homelessness.

“We will closely monitor events to see what more can be done and I am hopeful that our bid for more funding will be successful as we have a very strong case.”

Open Door – which is managed by Hightown Housing Association - operates as a night shelter and as a daytime drop-in for vulnerable people in the District. It offers guidance on housing, health and other issues.

There is access to computers and people can undertake educational and training courses on healthcare, IT and basic life skills.

Both the council and Open Door work to support those living on the streets through the Rough Sleeping Steering Group for St Albans.

The council has also applied to the Government’s Cold Weather Fund to support the cost of the additional beds and other expenses such as new clothing.