St Leonard’s Church, Birdingbury, supporting the Rugby Winter Night Shelter 2017/2018
Karen Armbrister, Church Warden writes:
This is our third year supporting St Matthews and St Oswald’s Church (known as M2O) in Rugby with their night shelter commitment on Thursday nights. Last year we cooked and helped on two occasions and this year we are very delighted to be able to support on four evenings. We can only do this with our band of fabulous volunteers who enjoy coming along. Normally 6 of us attend from 6.30pm to 10.00pm, when the overnight shift takes over. One of our regular helpers, Alex writes:
‘I am pleased to be among a group of villagers representing Birdingbury at the Night Shelter in Rugby, coordinated by local charity Hope4.
Each night of the week, between December and March, a different church in Rugby hosts a night shelter for 15 people who would otherwise be sleeping rough or lodging on friends’ sofas and the like, and St Leonards has put together a team to help once a month.
Our group prepares, cooks and takes along a two-course hot meal, puts up the beds supplied by Hope 4 and enjoys some conversation with the guests using the shelter. Once everyone is fed (guests and volunteers eat together) and we have cleared up, we return home, leaving guests to sleep supported by two volunteers from the church. After a breakfast the next morning guests then leave for the day, before returning to the hope 4 Centre to register and apply for the following evening’s venue. Guests must apply in person at the Centre and be issued with a ticket to attend that evening’s venue. Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not permitted entry. Guests can be ejected for inappropriate behaviour as well. Beds are transported between churches and the army of laundry volunteers deal with the used bedding, washing and ironing it before passing it on again. Over 300 people are involved in volunteering for the Night Shelter.
We have been privileged to meet some wonderful people, each with a unique story. It is clear that there is no ‘type’ of person that becomes homeless; it is not something that discriminates by race, nationality or gender. Meeting those affected by homelessness has taught me a great deal about how vulnerable we all are, but also about how resilient people can be, as well as the difference a little bit of my time can make both to me and the people we are trying to help.’
Everyone has a story – everyone – even us! Working as volunteers at the shelter has opened our eyes to how close we all are to changing circumstances which leave us much at the mercy of the kindness of others. It is a humbling experience as we leave to go home to our warm, comfortable homes and families.
Jesus taught us that we should; ‘love one another’ – helping at the Night Shelter certainly gives us the opportunity to love and to serve those who are not as blessed with comfort as we are – it’s a privilege to do it – why don’t you come along and help sometime?