by Malcolm Bream
Everyday Wimbledon will again be participating in the Merton Winter Night Shelter this December and January with thirteen other local places of worship, including the Wimbledon Synagogue and Wimbledon Mosque.
When I retired just under four years ago, I became a street pastor and I saw first-hand the rough sleepers in the shop doorways along Wimbledon Broadway. Shortly afterwards the call went out for someone to champion the Merton Winter Night Shelter at Everyday Wimbledon and God made it clear to me that this was to be me. This will be our fourth year and without a doubt, the effectiveness of the shelter has been steadily increasing. Last year, ten of the initial twelve guests moved on to accommodation and/or jobs, with some of their replacements also being successful in this. The shelter provides a great platform for guests to move on in their lives.
So what happens? The shelter runs for fifteen weeks from the end of November to mid-March 2018, including several days up at Crisis for Christmas in central London. Everyday Wimbledon will act host each Sunday evening from 3 December 21 January. We offer a warm welcome, a shower, a piping hot evening meal and a relaxing place to play pool, have a game of chess, watch a DVD or just sit quietly chatting to people who show real love and interest in them. This is followed by a warm and safe place to sleep and breakfast, before our guests leave with a packed lunch for the day ahead.
We will have 12-14 guests, all of whom have been referred by the YMCA and Faith in Action as being homeless but understanding the few boundaries expected of them, e.g. a no-alcohol rule.
We require volunteers for three shifts:
Evening (6.30pm-9.30pm) – set up venue, welcome, serve/eat supper, befriend our guests
Night (9.30pm-6.30am) – befriend our guests, monitor the night, prepare packed lunch
Breakfast (6.30am-8.30am) – prepare/serve/eat breakfast, see guests off the premises, pack down
You can pick and mix any combination of shifts that suits you. We’d particularly appreciate volunteers on the evening and night shifts on New Year’s Eve.
Volunteer cooks make the evening meal at home and bring them to our church venue. Each cook is supplied with a serving dish and asked to make a meal for 6 people (recipe provided). We are currently short of cooks on 10 December (1), 17 December (3) and 21 January (2).
Anyone who has been involved over the past three shelters will confirm that you get so much more from getting to know our guests than you ever put in, not only totally changing your reaction when you see someone begging or sleeping on the street, but also by forming real and lasting relationships with people who turn out to be so similar to yourself. Seeing four or five of last year’s guests still attending our church services is enough proof for me that this is God at work in Wimbledon.
If you’d like to volunteer or need more information, contact us!