What we do
Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter brings together Churches, Church members and Volunteers (both secular and non-secular) in Maidstone.
Since the winter shelter first opened its doors in December 2013, we have adapted and changed according to experience and circumstances.
Each winter we open for 3 months in order to provide a hot meal and a safe, warm overnight stay for Maidstone's street homeless population. We also offer support and signposting, so that our guests know where to go for longer term help. In recent years we have extended our offer of hot meals to include people in temporary accommodation with little or no cooking facilities, plus others IN NEED of a meal and support.
Our shelters are hosted by churches across Maidstone. We operate on a 'rolling night shelter' basis meaning the load is shared between church venues and teams, with each venue offering their building for one night or more per week. From these venues we serve hot meals, a listening ear, overnight accommodation and support for our guests.
In addition to our evening meals/accommodation, we hold afternoon registration sessions at which we provide hot drinks, snacks and a time to just 'chill' in a warm, comfortable setting. At these sessions, our Project Team take time to chat with the guests and encourage them to engage with Maidstone Borough Council, The Day Centre and other services, to obtain support and advice on benefits/jobs and housing, in order to help get them off the streets for good.
We have a determined board of Trustees who ensure our Aims are fulfilled each year. We also have a small team of part-time staff who oversee the Shelter Operations and an Administrator/Volunteer co-ordinator to deal with the admin duties required in running the shelter and keeping volunteers informed.
We are supported by many willing volunteers who give their time, dedication, patience and experience to enable the shelter to open each evening and to provide the help and support our guests need. We simply couldn't run the shelter without them and we are truly grateful for the support from our volunteers each year!
Whilst in the Shelter, our guests are encouraged and supported to liaise with other organisations such as Maidstone Borough Council Homeless Support team, Maidstone Day Centre, CGL (Change, Grow, Live) in order to support them with access to benefits/employment and into accommodation (temporary or permanent), helping them to move off the streets for good.