posted 3 March 2016

Plans are under way to open a new Glass Door emergency winter night shelter circuit in the London Borough of Wandsworth. Five churches have already committed, and Glass Door is looking to finalise plans with at least two more churches in the borough. 

"If all goes to plan, it will mean more men and women will be able to get off the streets in the dead of winter,” says Glass Door's Chief Operating Officer Steven Platts.  "Many more people come to us looking for shelter than we can accommodate. The need is definitely there,” he adds. 

Wandsworth is the only inner London borough that doesn’t already have an emergency winter night shelter. “It makes perfect sense to expand our partnership model into the Battersea and Clapham Common area,” Steven adds. 

St Mark’s Battersea Rise, St Luke’s Battersea, St Barnabas Clapham Common, St Peter’s Battersea and the Church of the Ascension Balham Hill have all signed on to be involved. “We’re extremely grateful to these churches for coming forward to work with us," says Steven.  

Any single church would struggle to host a night shelter all week long by itself, but working together, the burden becomes much more manageable. The churches take it in turns to host a night shelter, each providing meals, support and shelter one night of the week in winter. Churches also organise volunteers who cook supper and provide a warm welcome for the homeless guests. Glass Door provides the staff, infrastructure, experience and insurance. Glass Door caseworkers support guests to find ways to get off the streets permanently.

 

Revd Elisabeth Morse, the Vicar at St Luke's Church Battersea, says her church's parishioners have been keen to do more to help men and women who are homeless. "Our parish supported a hostel for homeless men for many years until it moved away a couple of years ago, so it left a hole. A nightshelter seemed a bit daunting but after speaking with [staff at] Glass Door, we realised this is something we can and really want to do," Revd Elisabeth says.    

As part of her research, she paid a visit to one of the existing Glass Door night shelters. She adds: 

Visiting a night shelter has been a very helpful way of seeing the safe refuge and real hospitality they offer. We’re thrilled to be involved in extending the shelter network to the Battersea and Wandsworth area.

Glass Door already partners with 25 other churches around West London that provide either a shelter venue, a daytime drop-in centre or a volunteer team. Working in partnership with these churches, Glass Door provides shelter, supper and breakfast for 70 to 100 people a night in winter. The new network of churches will host an additional 15 men and women every night, from 7 November 2016 to 9 April 2017.  

Glass Door will be working with day centres Ace of Clubs and Spires to provide daytime support for the guests who use the network of nightshelters in Wandsworth.

In addition to finalising a commitment with two more churches, Glass Door also needs to raise the funds to make the expansion possible. "There's still work to be done," Steven acknowledges, but he believes the charity's annual fundraising event, the Glass Door Sleep Out, will help bridge the funding gap. "Every year we are humbled by the good will shown by our supporters who are dedicated to helping others find shelter in winter. Our partners and supporters make it possible for us to bring in hundreds from the cold each winter."