A homeless centre that could "save and transform" the lives of rough sleepers opened this week.

Watford Borough Council has been working with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and homeless charity New Hope throughout the pandemic.

The partnership provided shelter for rough sleepers at the YMCA hostel located on Charter Place and the Travelodge on Exchange Road so they can isolate during the crisis.

More than 80 people were staying in the hotel, and up until this week there were fewer than 20 people still living there, as throughout lockdown they were moved onto accommodation provided by New Hope and other charities.

But the council has revealed that the remaining people in the hotel will be placed into a new centre in the YMCA hostel.

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Inside the new centre. Credit: Jay Butler

The council said it worked with several homeless organisations to create this project as the hotel accommodation wouldn't be permanent, especially as hospitality businesses can reopen from this Saturday (July 4).

Elected Watford Mayor Peter Taylor said: "At the start of the pandemic we realised how important it was to respond to the situation and make sure everybody had the opportunity to self-isolate.

"But it then later became an initial priority to find accommodation for people in the hotel, as it wasn't permanent.

"We worked really close together to make sure we could make the best out of a very difficult situation.

"It was really positive for some individuals as it was a big turn around in their mental health, having a proper place to sleep and having the support services available as well."

One whole floor in the hostel has been converted into 22 rooms and there will be mental health and substance abuse support on hand.

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Watford Mayor Peter Taylor (right) attended the opening. Credit: Jay Butler

CEO of One YMCA Guy Foxell said: "This centre is an opportunity to do something we have not done before which is taking in people with really complicated needs.

"We will have a dedicated network of support workers with them."

Mr Foxell also said that throughout the course of the year, with the right support the individuals could move into standard accommodation. This would have less support but would help prepare them for eventually moving into private or rented accomodation.

He added: "I'm pleased to say that there has been positive reactions so far. This centre is absolutely essential.

"Especially with the threat of coronavirus. Somebody who has been street homeless already has their life expectancy dramatically reduced.

"It's a life or death situation, and this initiative is saving and transforming lives."