A CAERPHILLY County Borough Council scheme to work with local churches in support of rough sleepers is to return for a second year.

The Caerphilly Churches Night Shelter initiative was piloted at three churches in January this year to try and reduce rough sleeping in the area and provide those in need with shelter for the evening.

Such was the impact that it has returned this winter with an extended programme.

Seven churches in the Blackwood and Caerphilly area will each cover one night, meaning there is availability for every night of the week.

The scheme commences on Monday January 6, 2014, and runs through until Thursday March, 27.

Each church will be able to accommodate a maximum of six people and doors will open at 7pm, offering rough sleepers a warm meal, a safe place of rest and breakfast in the morning.

But rough sleepers must be referred and cannot arrive unannounced. Referrals must be received by 4pm each afternoon to the Housing Advice Centre.

The Caerphilly Churches Night Shelter initiative has seen financial contributions from all across the community.

A fundraiser was held in Blackwood Rugby Club on December 9, with a singer, magician and Pontlanfraith Primary School Choir , which raised £805. Mount Carmel Church, Caerphilly, also raised £375 with help from Griffithstown Choir.

The project has also been supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Partnership, who provided £4,300 grant funding, while Bargoed Bears Ladies rugby team have donated warm clothes and blankets.

Cllr Gerald Jones, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing, said: “It is heart warming to see local churches, the local community, volunteers and the council working together to provide somewhere warm and dry for rough sleepers in the county borough as the temperature creeps below zero degrees this winter. I am extremely proud that the council are supporting such an important project.”

For more information or to refer a homeless applicant call David Francis 01443 873549, email francd1@caerphilly.gov.uk or contact the Housing Advice Centre on 01443 873552.

To volunteer at one of the churches, contact Reverend Sue Phillips, church co-ordinator, on 07817 238608.