Swindon Night Shelter: supporting the homeless, vulnerable and isolated in Swindon since 2008

Swindon Night Shelter in Need  - screen shot from Swindon night shelter website

Swindon Night Shelter in Need. And what they’re in need of is white goods, food and cash to keep going.  Can you help? Contact details below.

The Swindon Night Shelter in Need - swindon night shelter logo

Contact: 01793 613166
E-mail: 
admin@swindonnightshelter.org.uk

And their web form: http://www.swindonnightshelter.uk/contact-us

Now, with the COVID 19 pandemic they’ve seen a dramatic change to the way they operate. More people are coming forward as homeless and needing support. 

The vast rise in the need for their services has meant stepping out of the normal model to assist with:

  • Accommodation
  • Home moving and sourcing vital household goods. 

Meanwhile the Night Shelter’s normal work goes on. Offering telephone support to their 150+ guests, giving emotional support. And arranging food deliveries and washing clothes for those without amenities.  

They say …

More people than ever need our help and The Swindon Night Shelter will continue to do everything we can to support them.

The closure of our cafes and shops. And the cancellation or postponement of all their community and fundraising events (including a Charity Ball and the Duck race (set to happen in May) will hit the charity hard.

Becky Davison, Chair of the charity said: “We have never seen anything like the situation we are facing now. We have an urgent need donations of white goods, food and financial blessings. The situation we have right now is ever increasing the demand for our services. As soon as the government lift the lockdown restrictions we can reopen our day and night shelter.

We’re praying and trusting God that we’ll survive as a Charity. We’ve had the huge blessing of a grant from Wiltshire Community Foundation. This will help no-end with this situation.

Other gifts are coming in but everyone is under pressure. Thus we need to plan with care and find other funding streams to help us.

Five Key Components to the charity

  1. a walk-up Night Shelter
  2. A day centre
  3. Community cafes
  4. Social enterprise shop and warehouse
  5. The Hive – where we run our back to work programme and deliver to all the other areas of the ministry.

Then there’s The Hub shop and Cafe and Pop up shops across Wiltshire. In those we work with local schools and churches providing work experience, training and much needed price-reduced goods.

Due to social distancing we’ve had to close all these services – though our team are offering remote support where possible. 

Working across Wiltshire

“Having had to close our social enterprise activities we are now giving away what goods and services we do have that will help those referred to us in financial need across Wiltshire. “Becky explained.

We work across Wiltshire supporting over 1,000 people who are homeless, vulnerably housed, isolated or in long term poverty and need.”

Dan Read, Swindon Night Shelter’s Operations Manager said “We’ve needed to react fast to the changes and adapt everything we do to continue to support those in need”

Additionally, we’re providing vital practical and emotional support to growing numbers of rough sleepers housed in temporary accommodation, to limit the virus’ spread.

“There is an unprecedented demand on our services, and this will likely increase in the weeks and months to come.”

Furlough

Thanking everyone for their help, Dan said ‘Many of our night-time volunteers are on furlough from their jobs and so have come to serve with us rather than staying home with their families.

Our courageous volunteers are designated keyworkers under huge pressure. They’re putting their own health on the line to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community.” 

He continued to say, “It’s estimated there are 320,000 homeless people in the UK and 8,000 rough sleepers. There is a higher risk that these individuals will have a health condition which puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19. These are men, women (and in some cases children) with health damaged by trauma, rough sleeping and poverty”.

Even without the threat of a virus, homeless people die on average 30 years sooner than the general population.

Everyone In

Three weeks ago, the government set in motion an ‘Everyone In’ initiative to slow the spread of the virus through this particularly vulnerable group. It aims to offer every homeless person temporary accommodation during the crisis.

The government did acknowledge the challenges faced by charities when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £750 million fund to support charities through the Covid-19 crisis.

We’ve worked tirelessly with colleagues across the sector and in the local council, to find homeless people and bring them in to empty hotels and other temporary accommodation.

Dan explained the current situation for many they support:  “Now most have temporary shelter in local hotels and B&Bs. Yet many known to us remain in unstable housing and are very much alone, frightened, in poor health and more unsure than ever about what the future holds.“

“They are often staying in one room with no cooking facilities or e fridge to store food and no support networks or family to lean on. These men and women are reliant on our frontline staff, and they’re stretched to the limit, providing emergency support.

Dan explained “For every rough sleeper we help, approximately 20 others are sleeping on sofas, in vehicles, or are insecurely housed.

“Now, as the virus spreads, these arrangements are breaking down. Covid-19 is accelerating financial hardship, relationship breakdown and mental health issues.

And all these factors contribute to homelessness.

A threat of worse to come – but some government help

Reported figures showed another 4% rise in homelessness in the UK at the turn of the year. Our own experience here in Swindon during this pandemic suggests there could be further threat of worse still to come in 2021”.  

The government did acknowledge the challenges faced by charities when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £750 million fund to support charities through the Covid-19 crisis.

“The fund is of course a welcome announcement, but we also know from experience that it may not go far enough, in reaching all those in need.

The charity sector is reportedly set to lose a staggering £4 billion in 12 weeks.

More people than ever need our help and The Swindon Night Shelter will continue to do everything we can to support them.

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