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Volunteers required to manage Church Winter Night Shelters

Published Friday, 25th October 2019

image for communities, neighbourhoods and the environment

The Southend Church Winter Night Shelter scheme will soon be starting this year’s program. Volunteer managers are needed to ensure the shelters will be available for rough sleepers within the Borough.

Now in its 8th year of operation, the scheme provides the homeless community with food, a bed and helps to get them off of the streets for good. The scheme is run in partnership by Love Southend, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and HARP, and is directly responsible for helping homeless people in to accommodation every year, using seven local churches.

Volunteers will be part of a network of seven shelters running from Monday 2 December until Sunday 29 March, with each shelter only running one night a week. 

With the venue, equipment and teams of experienced volunteers already in place, the main role is ensuring that the shelter and volunteers are set up for the evening.  You will not be required to stay overnight.

Anyone able to spare an evening once a week to support this scheme, Love Southend, the council and HARP are looking for managers to help run the following shelters;

  • Monday evenings at Leigh Road Baptist Church
  • Thursday evenings at Westcliff Free Church (London Road) 

In addition to the managers, the council is also actively seeking an additional location to provide the service on Tuesday nights. The facility would need to be open from 6pm, through the night until 8am the following morning, and would need to have room for at least 20 beds, toilet facilities and space to prepare and provide food and drinks.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council with a responsibility for homelessness, said: “The Church Winter Night Shelters provide an absolutely vital service to ensure anyone who is sleeping rough can have access to food, hot drinks and a bed in the particularly harsh winter months.

“With temperatures dropping to nearly freezing, it is essential we provide a safe and warm environment for those on the streets. Managing this with HARP allows professionals to work closely with those who use the service to provide a platform for them moving forward.”

Gary Turner, Service Operations Manager at HARP, Southend’s homelessness charity, said: "The Churches Winter Night Shelters project is a fantastic partnership between local churches, HARP and Southend Borough Council, which literally saves lives at the most dangerous time of year, giving people who have no other option a vital life-line to keep off the streets.

“As well as receiving a hot meal and a bed for the night, the people who use the service work closely with HARP to create an action plan, which, with our combined support, aims to help them to overcome homelessness for good. We’re really excited about being part of this initiative once again and helping to change more lives for the long-term."

To find out more about being part of this rewarding scheme, please contact John Simmons (the Co-Ordinator) on 07483 825298 or via email.