AN emergency 'pop-up' shelter for the homeless is opening in Blackburn as East Lancashire prepares to be battered by 80mph winds.

Bosses at the Salvation Army have triggered their severe weather emergency protocol to protect rough sleepers across the county and beyond as Storm Ciara gathers pace.

And Bramwell House, in Heaton Street, is one of the locations which will be operating a night refuge for the homeless community.

Met Office yellow amber warnings, alerting people to the prospect of dangerous high winds, are already in place for Sunday across Blackburn and the rest of the UK.

And a large swathe of East Lancs, including, Clitheroe, Burnley and Bacup, are also predicted to face problems with heavy rains.

Malcolm Page, the Salvation Army's assistant director for homelessness, said: "Our ‘pop-up’ shelters offer an extra layer of protection to rough sleepers – a safe warm space to shelter can be the difference between life and death at this time of year.

"On the streets they are extremely vulnerable and risk death due to exposure to harsh weather conditions. Rough-sleepers face multiple challenges in their lives – such as domestic violence, mental ill health, childhood trauma or addiction– that led to them losing their home. A place in a shelter can be the first step towards tackling these issues.

"The Met Office is warning people to stay inside and to not shelter or walk close to buildings and trees. When you are without a home, this is impossible.

"Finding a safe shelter can be tough whatever the weather but even more so when extreme weather hits. The Salvation Army stands ready to offer protection in the storm."

Bramwell House regularly offers support for at least 55 men and women with homelessness issues.

Earlier this year it was announced an extra £180,000 had been awarded by the government to tackle rough sleeping in the borough.