Winter Night Shelter
Emmaus Medway heavily involved in the Medway Churches Winter Night Shelter
The Medway towns in Kent are poorly set up to help those most in need. We see this at Emmaus Medway all the time with a long list of potential new companions looking to join our community and very few other options for those affected by homelessness and societal disengagement.
Before Christmas we became involved in the planning and setting up of a Winter Night Shelter across Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham alongside a committed group of volunteers from 20 or so local churches. These churches have provided venues from the start of January for 12 beds for those who are sleeping rough on our streets at the coldest time of the year. Considering the planning only began in November it has been a fantastic effort from all involved to actually get it up and running in time.
Moving from one site to another each night the numbers using the service have gone up week by week as word has spread amongst the rough sleepers in the area. Initially there were just 5 people staying with us, but as of last night there was only 1 spare bed available. This is a crucial service and has provided a lifeline to the men who have used it as temperatures have plummeted in the last couple of weeks.
Emmaus Medway has had input in a number of areas.
A number of companions at Emmaus Medway have given up their time to help. Dan, James, Adam, Zeke, Josh and Steve have all been taking it in turns to get up much earlier than normal to help with the logistics of moving beds, sleeping bags and food from one venue to the next. Chris and Dave (both staff) have also been involved in the morning shifts. It has been hard work moving close to a lorry load’s worth of stuff at 7.30am but all involved have been eager to help those less fortunate than themselves; true solidarity in action.
Chris (staff) has some previous experience of running a night shelter and was able to provide some guidance to the Churches on best practice at the planning stage, as well as being a member of the steering group.
We have also committed to doing the washing of all the bedding and towels which our companions have done extremely efficiently.
Finally, we donated a day’s takings in a solidarity sale to the running of the shelter totalling c. £600.
The shelter is due to run for another couple of months and while it is going it will have the full support of Emmaus Medway.