Winter is Coming
The Homeless have nowhere to hide
That time of year is fast approaching again when the clocks go back. The nights are drawing in and the weather is turning cold. Most of us retreat into our homes, put on the jumpers and slippers and grab a hot chocolate and hunker down. For the least fortunate among us this is not an option. For those with no roof over their head, winter is even more about survival than the rest of the year. You may have noticed recent reports hitting the headlines about the number of homeless dying on our streets. In winter the risk is exponentially higher. These deaths are unnecessary and can be avoided if we can get people off the streets and into shelter at the very least during these colder months.
That said, for us whilst this is a great starting point, it is not a long term solution. Winter provision keeps people alive but they may have to access the service year after year. For us that is not good enough. We ran a pilot project when we first started the Wolverhampton Church Shelter in 2016 for 1 month. At the end of it we had to close the doors and people returned back to the streets. A number of individuals told us that they felt as though we had treated them like animals. I can see their point. You bring the animals into the stables and barns during the colder winter months. You then put them back outside the rest of the year. We decided that this was not how we want to operate. So we changed our thinking around our core purpose and values.
The Unified Pathway
Now, the Church Shelter is the key starting point for our Unified Pathway out of homelessness. We aim to find permanent solutions for rough sleepers. It runs all year round and provides a place of safety, rest and recuperation for its guests. Essentially its ‘family run culture’ operates as an incubator for forming relationships. It is these relationships of trust that encourage the guests to take the first steps down their pathway out of homelessness. We are seeking to create an environment within which each individual can and will find the motivation to take some responsibility. This will in turn lead to them committing to realising their own individual pathway, that will lead to a new start in life.
Being a supportive family, finding homes, developing skills and building community are all component parts of the Unified Pathway. Collaborations and partnerships are key to the Pathway’s success and we are committed to ensuring that nobody gets left behind in the process. It is EHG’s responsibility to enable all its guests to grow in confidence and, working with its partners, help them to achieve a level of confidence that enables them to successfully move on.
How can I help?
We strive to keep our costs down and our ratio of staff to volunteers is about 1 to 25. It is essential however that our service remains free to the guests and we want to provide a quality service that gives them the best shot at finding their own pathway out of homelessness. It costs us £10 per guest per night – making a total of £300 per night – to ensure that anyone who needs access to shelter can have it in our city. Could you provide beds for the night for rough sleepers this winter?