Q&A: Wanstead’s winter night shelter

Volunteers and funding are being sought for a winter night shelter to run in the hall at Christ Church over the winter months. A £4,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund has been announced which will help meet the costs, and there is also a crowdfunder running to help.

Here the Rector of Wanstead, the Reverend Dr Jack Dunn, answers some questions about the project.

People think Wanstead is wealthy, but what is the homelessness situation here as far as you can tell?
The numbers are growing. The church is helping a growing number of homeless people and also people who have had their benefits suspended or stopped plus families who can’t make ends meet. 
How will the night shelter work?
We will partner with FCENS who will provide a key worker to register the guests during the day and ensure that they are eligible for our help. The charity  also works with guests to try to find long term accommodation solutions. Otherwise the local community provides volunteers to help cook and to serve dinner and to welcome guests and to stay over and serve breakfast and tidy up. The church provides the hall and the organisation and some of the volunteers. We are crowdfunding the finance. The shelter will sleep up to a total of 30 men and women per night.
Who are the intended clients for it, and if it’s for homeless people from outside Wanstead is there a risk of ‘importing’ a greater homelessness problem here?
The guests have to register with the FCENS charity first to gain admission to the shelter. They will come from a wide area. Homeless people don’t tend to have static locations. Some will be in work but not have accommodation and others may be long-term homeless. 
How will it be funded and staffed?
Through community and church volunteers (approx 45 people) and through crowdfunding, here: https://acf.crowdfunder.co.uk/winter-night-shelter?tk=1d1281920425eff38f157cbbd17a12b181362503
How long will it run?
At Wanstead from January 7 to the end of March on Tuesday evenings. A different church takers a night per week. The overall shelter runs from November to end of March but other churches take the Nov to December shift. 
What will the arrangement be with other users of the premises (eg uniformed organisations)
The other users of the hall on Tuesday evening will continue to use the hall with appropriate safeguarding / practical provisions. 
A winter shelter is a response to an acute problem, but what can people do to help the more chronic situation?
Lobby their councillors and MPs for meaningful change. Vote for the common good. Pray.  In 2019/2020 it is unacceptable that people are still dying on our streets. 
Additional info:
Nicola Jarratt adds:
Financial donations – Wanstead Parish are currently running a crowdfund campaign at the moment to raise funds. Over £5,000 has been raised to date including £2,000 from the Aviva Community Fund. Link here bit.ly/wansteadnightshelter
Food/toiletries/household items/clothes etc
* Lizi Arnold at The Cuckfield is collecting food items for both the shelter and Redbridge Foodbank, plus coats, hats, socks etc. for the shelter. She has an Amazon wish list running.
* John Wagstaff at Petty Son & Prestwich are collecting food donations for both shelter and Redbridge Foodbank, plus good quality trainers for the night shelter