IN THE BEGINNING - THE NEED
Ten years ago, a team of church leaders in Maidstone recognised a need in our town. They and countless others were meeting many people in need of help and in need of a home. That need still exists today.
The original planning team were especially concerned about the levels of street homelessness in Maidstone, particularly during the coldest winter months, so they set up a group to discuss how this need could be addressed. The initial plan and obvious response was to find an empty building in the town centre and set it up as a shelter for the winter. However, it was eventually decided that a church-based winter shelter would be the way forward, run mainly with volunteers - and so Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter (MCWS) began!
MCWS first opened its doors in December 2013, offering food, friendship, shelter and support over the coldest 3 months of each winter. The original plan was not only to meet the immediate needs of those who were homeless by offering a bed and a meal, but also to offer true hospitality and care to those in crisis.
Since MCWS first began, the support we offer has adapted and expanded to meet the ever-changing needs of people in our ever-changing world. For example, Maidstone Borough Council have a dedicated homeless support team who are doing a great job of finding accommodation for people who become homeless in our town. However, there are still people they are unable to help, especially at short notice, or those with no recourse to public funds. Our offer of overnight support is there to catch these people who fall through the gaps, even temporarily, over the winter months. In addition to providing overnight accommodation and meals for those people, we now also offer support for people who are potentially the future homeless: those who are struggling to pay the rent and bills plus put food on the table due to limited financial resources.
Our 2024 winter shelter will open it's doors on the afternoon of Tuesday 02 January 2024 and run until the morning of Tuesday 02 April 2024, offering help and support as follows:
will be offered to people who cannot be supported by Maidstone Borough Council, especially at short notice, or for those people with no recourse to public funds.
Meals & Hospitality
Afternoons - we will offer hot drinks, snacks, a chat and support for our guests.
Evenings - we will offer hot meals, hospitality and support plus some social interaction.
Our staff and volunteers will use their skills and knowledge to know when, how and where to signpost guests to other agencies if additional support is required, for example with medical advice, addictions,
Prevention of homelessness
This encompasses all our activities and can be adapted as needed. For people who are struggling to pay rent, heating bills and buy the basics such as essential food they are just one step away from becoming homeless. We will help these people with basic necessities or skills to enable them to help themselves, hopefully keeping additional homeless cases to a minimum.
These sessions will be open to people who are homeless, those in temporary accommodation but with little or no cooking facilities, plus people who are genuinely in need of a hot meal and/or support.
We are currently trying to ascertain any Christmas cover that is being provided by other agencies, to avoid duplication of support.
If you wish to volunteer to support our work, please click on the 'Get involved/volunteer' tab at the top of the page.
HELP OUT TO EAT OUT
Homeless charities warn that, across the UK, the number of rough sleepers could increase significantly due to the current global economic crisis.
Council Housing support helps the homeless survive the winter, but the experience can be isolating.
Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter work with Maidstone Borough Council Homeless Support Team to ensure support is provided for people in need.
Our priorities continue to be the provision of shelter, meals and hospitality/support plus signposting to other services where appropriate (for example, counselling).
If you wish to make a financial donation to support our work, please click on the Donate button below.
Help out to Eat out: £10 pays for a meal, hot drinks and snacks for one or more of our guests during the winter. If you wish to help, donations can be made here:
The Winter Shelter makes a big difference to the lives of people who, in circumstances often beyond their control, find themselves homeless.
According to Crisis, the true number of rough sleepers is far greater than those reported and its own research predicts considerable increases in numbers of street homeless by 2026, if nothing changes. This is on top of those people already sleeping in tents, cars, trains and buses.
Whilst homelessness continues in Maidstone, Kent, Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter will be there to provide help and support, working alongside other agencies and organisations, including volunteers and team members.
Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter is a member of