Housing and Communities Board chair Chris Thomas MHK says finding a replacement for Graih’s night shelter has ‘proved challenging’.

Mr Thomas, who is also the Infrastructure Minister, was asked what progress has been made since Graih’s closure by Speaker Juan Watterson.

Since Graih closed on September 30, Broadway Baptist Church has continued operating its day centre six days a week, but finding an organisation to deliver an interim service has not yet been as successful.

Mr Thomas said: ‘Government is in dialogue with interested parties, but it is proving difficult to find trained and experienced staff who are competent and confident in supporting the vulnerable people who require the use of an emergency shelter. This has delayed the recommencement of this service.

‘The accommodation to provide the emergency night shelter at Broadway Church was not ideal to house vulnerable people. A new night shelter should, at a minimum, provide camping style beds with essential bedding, toilets, wash-up basins, kitchen and laundry facilities.’

The Douglas Central MHK said that a new night shelter providing just five beds needs at least two professional support workers on duty during opening hours. He added that these workers would ‘ideally’ be trained and experienced in supporting people with a variety of difficulties.

Mr Thomas also said that his Housing and Communities Board was working to accelerate the commissioning of a long-term emergency shelter service, ‘something which it had originally set out to achieve in its Action Plan by end-March 2023, in case an interim or short term solution is not feasible’.

He added: ‘The Department of Infrastructure is also considering how a greater degree of government involvement in this provision might be possible and beneficial.’

The Housing and Communities Board’s published Action Plan commits to the following:


Commissioned provision of emergency night shelter and ‘Housing First’ supported living arrangements, including facilitation of stepped approach to social housing


– Secure existing Emergency Night Shelter service for 12 months by June 2022* (*The Housing and Communities Board committed £119,000 for the emergency night service to continue into 2023.)

– Design Emergency Shelter and Housing First pathway by August 2022

– Strategic review and needs analysis of homelessness by October 2022

– Commission services aligned to Emergency Shelter pathway by March 2023 – Commission Housing First pathway by March 2023

Graih shut its shelter on September 30.

It had run it since 2008 and offered services including drop-ins, emergency night shelter and pastoral support to ‘homeless people and those in insecure or unsuitable accommodation’.

At the time chair of Graih John Bingham said: ‘The shelter has provided a vital service to the island every night since it opened at the beginning of 2019. The facility requires two members of staff to be on duty at all times from 9pm to 7.30am to help people who may walk in off the street as they have nowhere else to go. Our manager has done sterling work over the years leading this service.

‘Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain staffing levels. It is clear now that the situation is no longer sustainable, so it is with deep regret that Graih has taken the very difficult decision to close the night shelter.’

Since it was founded, Graih says it has delivered more than 55,000 meals to those in need and provided at least 3,000 overnight beds.

The issue of homelessness will be brought up in the House of Keys next week when Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse will ask Chief Minister Alfred Cannan: ‘What support is available for homeless people after 5pm?’