The churches of Ashford are currently running, for the 4th year, a Night Shelter providing breakfast, evening meal and a warm bed for up to 17 guests over the coldest 3 months of the year. The project began on Monday 10th December and runs till Sunday 10th March.
It is entirely run by volunteers and this year a few of our own members have got involved - Margaret Harman, John & Mary Fagg, Joan Fidler, Karen & Ian Bingham, Pam Burgess and Pete & Fran Penberthy.
Volunteers had to attend a 2 hour training session first which we all found incredibly helpful and informative. The training covered all aspects of homelessness including how easily it can happen to anybody, the national statistics on homelessness and details on how our local night shelter is run.
There were a number of ways to get involved and we chose from the following list
The evening shift: 6pm – 10pm which includes registering the guests, getting them settled and socialising with them throughout the evening.
The Cook Team: Preparing a hot, healthy dinner for the guests and volunteers.
The nightshift: 10pm-6am staying at the venue overnight.
The morning shift: 6am - 8am preparing breakfast and getting the guests up and out by 8 am, plus helping pack down and clean the venue.
The driving shift: 7.30am – 9am each day the guests pack their belongings into army bags which are transported to the next night’s venue using the Salvation Army’s van.
These are the churches that have opened their doors to the homeless and the nights they provide shelter:
Monday - St Francis, Cryol Road Tuesday - Ashford Christian Fellowship, Bank Street Wednesday - St Mary’s, Willesborough Thursday - Ashford Vineyard, Brunswick Road Friday - Willesborough Baptist Church Saturday - December only Ashford Christian Fellowship, January onwards Ashford Baptist Church Sunday - Ashford Vineyard
It is great to report that we as Gateway church intend to get involved next year using the Riverside Centre.
All of our Gateway volunteers have reported it being a very positive experience so far. They have loved the opportunity to practically help with this very real national problem and have expressed their commitment to be involved again next year.
If you would like to know more, you can contact Kareen McDonald on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get involved.
- Fran Penberthy
Our Christmas services in December took a specific offering for the Ashford Night Shelter, and as a result, raised over £940. So a massive thank you to all those that donated!