MANAGER OF SWINDON NIGHT SHELTER LOOKS FORWARD TO A NEW ‘NORMAL’ SUPPORTING THE HOMELESS
New Swindon Night Shelter Manager
IAN McCarthy, Swindon Night Shelter’s new manager, is looking forward to getting opened up. He’s keen to get going to support those who are homeless, sleeping rough or vulnerably housed across the town.
The 49-year-old, who lives with his family in North Swindon, took on the role of manager of the charity in the middle of the pandemic this year. At that time staff, volunteers and supporters had to ‘flex’ their services to support the vulnerable in the community. In the main through the delivery of donated fresh food produce. But also allowing a reduced number of homeless guests into the day centre, The Haven.
Now Swindon Night Shelter, and in particular, its premises The Haven on Queen’s Drive, is looking forward to supporting more people as restrictions ease.
Exciting times ahead
This is an exciting time for me, staff and our volunteers as we look to offer more support to those who need us in Swindon. We’re hoping to reconnect with guests who we’ve been unable to see during lockdown. And also to support those who we have yet to meet or who are in housing difficulty now,’ Ian said.
We’ve already started classes in cookery, woodworking and gardening. And we want to offer more of these activities this summer supporting more people. These activities also help with the maintenance of our buildings as well as offering skills to our guests. It’s amazing what comes from these classes. Often guests rediscover a former passion for cookery for example. Or they start to gain confidence from something as simple as gardening.
We’re also busy rebuilding our acquaintance with other organisations and agencies who supported our guests before the pandemic. We are hoping to reopen our Friday Night Shelter at St Mary’s Church – in September we hope. There, rough sleepers can come along for a bed for the night. They can also have a hot meal and pick up some clothes in an atmosphere of respect.’
A new challenge for Ian
In early 2020, After a 30-year career working in the training division for Nat West, Ian took redundancy. He then went in search of a new challenge. A committed Christian, he volunteered for the Swindon Night Shelter whilst looking for his next role.
‘I was keen to explore new areas of employment and a new challenge. My preference was something supporting the local community and Swindon Night Shelter offered all this and so much more. I started volunteering at the beginning of 2020 and so enjoyed the challenge of working with our guests. It’s wonderful hearing their life stories and then being able to try and offer some practical support to move them forward.
‘Part way through lockdown in 2020 an opportunity came about to become a full-time member of staff. And I can say that I have enjoyed it. ‘I’m excited, optimistic and realistic about the difference we can make to those in Swindon who find themselves homeless or under threat of homelessness.’
At present, Swindon Night Shelter runs The Haven Day Centre on Queen’s Drive. It’s open daily for the homeless and those whose housing places them in a vulnerable position. It’s a place where they can relax and spend some time off the streets in a welcoming and safe environment. They are also supported with job searches, benefit queries and access to other professional agencies. Not to mention enjoying a hot meal and access to shower facilities and washer drier machines for their clothes. We also supply surplus food to over 200 people each week.
The work of Swindon Night Shelter
The work of Swindon Night Shelter is reliant on raising funds from several sources. This includes its charity shop ‘The Hub’ on Clive Parade along with a temporary pop-up shop run from Freshbrook Church.
Other services coming onstream during 2021 include table-top sales. For more information about Swindon Night Shelter visit https://www.swindonnightshelter.uk