- Published: Saturday, 31 March 2018 10:31
Waterside Churches Together Night Shelter update
During 2017 the churches of the Waterside area felt that there was a need to provide some shelter to homeless folk who seek refuge in the Waterside area.
An ecumenical management group was formed and four churches on the area offered their buildings (Marchwood, Hythe, Dibden Purlieu, and Fawley) to be used to house the homeless on four nights a week.
Volunteers were sought and more than 60 offered (6 from Beaulieu Abbey) their help. This help covered the manning of the shelter at night, cooking evening meals and breakfast, transporting beds and cooking equipment between venues. Two full time ‘organisers’ were recruited (expert in social matters and homeless welfare) who provided training for the volunteers, were first point of reference with those needing a bed and generally managing the activities. The organisers were also the formal first point of contact with the various homeless agencies operating in the Waterside.
The project was planned to run for 14 weeks (during the worst of the winter) and was concluded at the end of February.
The Night Shelter is now a registered charity.
A review meeting was held in mid-Marchand Chair of the Trustees, Rev Edgar Ruddick summarised the first winter:
- Operating on only 4 nights, non-consecutively, has been an issue.
- A multi-centre model as current, and spread across our community does not have easy appeal.
- Changing patterns of homelessness are moving homeless folk towards larger cities.
The Trustees of the charity and now thinking ahead to next winter and have posed themselves the following questions:
- Is a 7 night provision on the Waterside possible and could it be at a single location ?
- Should the catchment area be widened to include Totton ?
- Might a New Forest-wide approach be adopted in partnership with the Lyndhurst Anglican Deanery who are exploring their own needs for the homeless ?
- Should an evening meal service at one location be offered in late Autumn as a precursor to the offer of a shelter later in the winter ?
These and other issues relating to the homeless and those who are connected with the Food Bank are to be discussed in the coming months.
As a part of the Christian community in the Waterside we should support the Night Shelter both with our continued prayers and practical help as the plans develop for the 2018/9 winter.