The Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters have helped 66 local people off the streets in the first four weeks of operation, with each guest staying at a shelter for between one and 20 nights. Four of those guests have since moved into HARP accommodation, beginning their journey to overcome homelessness for good.
The figures have been revealed as the Shelters announce that an additional church is stepping in to fill the gap on Tuesday nights, meaning that there will be a full seven day provision for the remainder of this year’s programme, which runs until 29th March 2020.
This joint partnership between HARP, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Love Southend is now in its ninth year and adds 20 extra sleeping spaces per night for rough sleepers in the local area, as churches across Southend open their doors for one night a week each. But when this year’s programme launched on 2nd December 2019, they still had no venue or volunteer shelter managers on a Tuesday night. Southend-on-Sea Borough Council were able to step in to provide an additional venue and shelter managers on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and the new venue will open on Tuesday 7th January.
John Simmons, Co-Ordinator for the Love Southend Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer shelter for a full seven nights a week. A big thank you to our new venue for stepping in to fill the gap at what is still the coldest time of the year, when it is impossible for those sleeping on the streets to stay warm and dry.”
Anyone who is rough sleeping and wants to make use of the Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters must be referred via our Bradbury Day Centre, 103-107 York Road, Southend-on-Sea, between 9am and 1pm, Monday to Friday. Full details of which churches are open on each evening will be provided to guests upon referral.
Jackie Bliss, HARP Chief Executive, said: “The Churches Winter Night Shelters are essential to HARP’s work helping local people overcome homelessness for good. We are grateful to all the churches and volunteers involved, as well as our partners Love Southend and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, for making this happen every year.”
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “It is fantastic news that we are now able to offer a full seven day a week, church winter night shelter programme. It is such a vital service, as these initial figures show and I want to thank all the volunteers, venues and of course, our partner agencies, for helping provide it.”
Pictured: Andrew and Lesley Hyde. Andrew manages one of the shelters with the support of his wife, Lesley, and a team of volunteers.