On Wednesday 9 January, church and Council officials gathered at Wormley Free Church to launch the Broxbourne Winter Night Shelter (BWNS), an initiative which helps those most at risk of immediate homelessness with night shelter, dinner and breakfast.
The Winter Shelter, was the brainchild of the late David Free, former Chair of Trustees of Broxbourne Food Bank, and is being led by Broxbourne Council’s former Housing Needs Manager, Andrew Wilkes, who will coordinate the volunteers and bring over 30 years of knowledge and experience in the housing field to the project. The initiative is supported by Broxbourne Council, who has provided grants totalling £4,000 for the running of the shelter, and Christian charity, Housing Justice.
From Monday 7 January, a number of churches from across the Borough will serve as shelters for eight weeks until Sunday 3 March 2019. There are seven participating churches, located in Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, Wormley and Waltham Cross, that will provide overnight accommodation and hot evening meals and breakfast for up to eight homeless guests every night.
All referrals will come via Broxbourne Council. Prospective residents will need to report to the Council’s Housing Department in the first instance and beds will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Rotating nightly, following their stay, breakfast will be provided as well as a packed lunch, if required, and guests will then move on to the next church for the evening.
The Shelter has received overwhelming support from almost 300 local residents who have offered to help run the project as volunteers by doing weekly laundry for guests, providing bedding and clothing and helping to set up beds and dining tables in the shelters.
Broxbourne Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Environment and Community is keen to support the project, saying: “It’s extremely unfortunate that a small number of people in the area find themselves in this position. This wonderful project will allow us to help those who we wouldn’t otherwise have a duty to house.”
Andrew Wilkes, Head of the Broxbourne Winter Night Shelter said: “This meaningful initiative is now part of a network that is dedicated to the welfare of residents at a high risk of immediate homelessness.
“We are committed to ensuring guests have at least eight weeks of warmth, food, love and company.”
For further details or to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer, contact Andrew Wilkes on firstname.lastname@example.org.