It seems a long time ago now, with preparations already in full swing for next winter, but here’s some facts and figures about last year’s Winter Shelter.
Our tenth Winter Shelter opened for 119 nights over 17 venues (plus three hotel nights over Christmas and New Year). Over that time we hosted 44 guests for a total of 1,137 nights’ sleep. We worked with each guest to support them, to find out what had caused them to become homeless and, for those who wanted, we helped them move on into more permanent accommodation. We’re delighted that 37 of our 44 guests were in alternative accommodation by the end of the shelter – whether that be their own private tenancy, hostel accommodation or social housing.
This year we welcomed St John’s West Bowling and St John’s Clayton as host churches, and continue to be very grateful to Bevan Health Care, who run a street doctor service at the shelter and to Prashad, who offer a delicious vegetarian curry for our guests each week.
As usual, the winter started with our annual memorial service at the cathedral, where we read out the names of the people who have died after being homeless. It is always a moving reminder of why we run our winter shelter.
Our winter shelter provides 12 beds for 17 weeks in the coldest months of the year (December to March), in a different partner church each week. Unlike many hostels, some beds are for those with ‘no recourse to public funds’ – for instance failed asylum seekers, people who’ve been trafficked, or partners of those with residency rights whose relationships have broken down. Churches provide guests with a hot meal each night, breakfast each morning and a bed for the night in between. But guests also get support: from simple conversations with people who listen, to help finding and keeping longer-term accommodation – which is why we limit our beds to twelve.
We continue to work with Housing Justice to share best practice and to support the network of shelters across the UK. We are also part of Bradford Council’s cold weather provision (CWP), which provides beds when a sub-zero temperature is forecast. With a milder winter, this year the CWP provided 258 bed spaces to 117 guests over 26 nights, 39 of whom were moved into longer term accommodation.