The Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters opened on Monday 2nd December but, despite every effort by us (and the Council), there was no church (or any other venue) available to host on Tuesdays.
However, the Council did provide 20 beds (and 2 shelter managers each evening) at the Tickfield Centre on Christmas Eve (and New Year’s Eve) with volunteers coming from various shelters and the community.
Also, because they are a Polling Station, Westcliff Free Church (WFC) were not able to host on Thursdays until January 9th. Fortunately, Westcliff Baptist Church (just over the road) were able to host on those nights by borrowing equipment and volunteers from WFC. The good news is that Westcliff Baptist will be hosting on Tuesdays from January 7th, and the Council are funding the purchase of equipment for them!
In the first 4 weeks, we were therefore open for 28 – 3 = 25 nights. With 20 beds per night, we provided 500 bed-nights. Of these 457 were filled (i.e. 91.5%). We were full on 3 nights and over capacity on 7 more nights. The minimum number overnight was 8 and the maximum number was 25 (twice).
We have seen 66 guests who have stayed at least 1 night; of those:
- 6 have stayed for more than 20 nights, whereas 20 have only stayed for 1 night.
- 12 are female (approx.. 18% – about the same as last year).
- 1 is under 25, but 10 are over 55.
- 35 are from the UK; 12 are from the EEA; and 4 are from elsewhere.
- Only 30 are on benefits; 3 said they had No Recourse to Public Funds (probably too low).
- When they first attended a WNS, only 28 were referred by HARP with 35 self-referring (the remaining 3 were referred by soup kitchens and the police).
- 15 admitted to regular use of alcohol; and 7 admitted to regular use of drugs.
- 22 said they had a mental health problem; and 18 said they had a physical health problem.
- 7 said they were homeless because of a relationship breakdown.
- 5 have learning difficulties.
- 7 have been released from prison in the last year.
N.B. Not all self-declared data has been collected.
Of the 66 guests, HARP informed me that 4 had been accommodated.
Volunteers have already given over 2,500 hours of their time which, if they had been paid (at the adult living wage), would have cost over £20,700.
The minibus drivers and escorts have provided transport Monday evenings/Tuesday AMs (to/from Leigh Road Baptist), and Saturday evenings/Sunday AMs (to/from Whittingham Avenue Methodist).
The new Deputy Co-Ordinator, Nina Alleyne is settling well into her new role and is learning fast about all that is involved.
John Simmons (Co-Ordinator) 03/01/20
In partnership with HARP, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Love Southend