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Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter (MCWS) first opened it’s doors in December 2013, with the aim of supporting the many people in need of shelter and help in our town over the coldest winter months.  At that time, leading homelessness charity, Porchlight, warned of an almost 50% rise in rough sleeping in Kent.   

There are many factors behind homelessness including unemployment, national austerity, family and relationship breakdowns, mental or physical illness, addiction and/or substance misuse, migration, poverty and debt, the struggle to return to independence after prison or care & acute shortages of affordable housing.  The list of reasons is endless. 

Also, a minority of people refuse help and some drop in and out of support.  Others, especially migrants, have no recourse to public funds and are especially isolated.

Since day one we have been overwhelmed with the support we have received from our local churches, our many volunteers (both secular and non secular) and our funders/donors.  Without this support, we wouldn't have been able to open our doors each winter and we are incredibly thankful for all the kindness and generosity we have received, and continue to receive, which enables us to support our guests each year.



Our 2024 winter shelter opened it's doors on  the afternoon of Tuesday 02 January 2024 and closed on the morning of Tuesday 02 April 2024.  Over this 3-month period we offered:


Overnight Accommodation

for people who could not be supported by Maidstone Borough Council, especially at short notice, or for those people with no recourse to public funds.

Meals & Hospitality

Afternoons - We served hot drinks & snacks from a warm church venue and also registered guests for evening meals and overnight accommodation when required.  In addition to this, guests were given the opportunity to talk about any concerns and to obtain advice and support as needed (including signposting to other, more appropriate, agencies).


Evenings - we offered hot meals, hospitality and support plus some social interaction between, guests, volunteers and staff in the form of games nights, film nights etc.  


Our staff and volunteers used their skills and knowledge to know when, how and where to signpost guests to other agencies if additional support was required, for example with medical advice, addictions,

counselling etc.  

Throughout the winter we supported people who were homeless, those in temporary accommodation but with little or no cooking facilities, plus others who were genuinely in need of a hot meal and/or support.   

Prevention of homelessness

This encompassed all our activities.  For people who were struggling to pay rent, heating bills and buy the basics such as essential food, we offered hot meals and advice on claiming benefits, pensions etc,. 


For these people, they are often just one step away from becoming homeless and sometimes just need help with basic necessities or skills to enable them to help themselves.  


Homeless charities warn that, across the UK, the number of rough sleepers could increase significantly due to the current global economic crisis. 


Alongside the distress and discomfort of being homeless, the experience can also be isolating.

Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter liaise closely with Maidstone Borough Council Homeless Support Team each winter, to ensure help is available for people in need.  

 Our priorities continue to be the provision of shelter, meals, hospitality and support (including signposting to other services where appropriate for example, housing, counselling, benefits etc).

If you wish to help, donations can be made by clicking on the 'Donate' button below.  £10 pays for a meal, hot drinks and snacks for one or more of our guests during the winter.  

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, if nothing changes, its own research predicts considerable increases in numbers of street homeless over the coming years.  Homelessness includes those people who are sofa surfing or 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


Homeless Link:

Homeless link logo.png

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4.19

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