Southend Borough Council (SBC) has an obligation to provide shelter from the elements for all Southend-based rough sleepers when the temperature is forecast to be below 0oC for 3 consecutive nights. In the past, they have done this with the help of e.g. HARP(The Southend Homeless Action Resource Project) and by using local hostels, hotels and B&BS.
In the late summer of 2011, SBC approached the churches in Southend (through Love Southend) to see if any church buildings could be made available alongside the provision listed above. Three churches were able to provide a shelter one night a week each and helped over 100 guests by providing an evening meal, a warm bed, and breakfast.
For the last three winters, seven churches have been able to cover one night a week each. They provided meals and shelter for 155 guests in 2012 – 13, 137 guests in 2013 – 14, and 125 guests in 2014 – 15.
This winter, we hope that each week from 23rd November to 18th March (17 weeks) will be covered as follows:-
- Sunday: Avenue Baptist Church (Westcliff);
- Monday: Southend Christian Fellowship (Southchurch);
- Tuesday: Shoebury and Thorpe Bay Baptist Church;
- Wednesday: tba (offers to host are very welcome);
- Thursday: probably Westcliff Free Church (tbc);
- Friday: Ferndale Baptist Church (Southend); and
- Saturday: United Methodist Church (at Whittingham Avenue).
HARP will be allocating guests (20 maximum each night) to the shelters by using an agreed referral process. Therefore, potential guests should be asked to go to HARP’s Bradbury Centre (in York Road) before 3pm (Monday – Friday only). We please request that they are not directed to the individual shelters as there may not be room.
Donations are always very welcome and will be used by the churches to buy food, personal necessities and clothes (e.g. toiletries, scarves, gloves, hats, socks, underwear, etc.), and to pay for the additional gas and electricity that they will be using over the winter.
We also need volunteers at each host church:-
- for evening shifts (approx. 18:30 – 22:00);
- especially overnight shifts (approx. 21:00 – 07:00);
- breakfast shifts (approx. 06:00 – 08:00); and
- to cook evening meals (2 courses for approx. 30 guests and volunteers).
If you can help or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact John Simmons (the Shelter Co-Ordinator) on 07866 740065, or by e-mail to email@example.com