The shelter will open on the evening of Monday 4th January 2021 and will run up to, and including, Sunday 28th March 2021. In view of the current Government guidance surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to offer overnight accommodation (dormitory-style in church halls) this winter. However, we will be working closely with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), who will provide a room/temporary accommodation to help keep everyone safe and off the streets this winter.
In order to continue supporting our local homeless community, we will be offering a hot evening meal and some social interaction to those guests who are in a room/temporary accommodation but have no access to cooking facilities or money for food. We will be working within the current Covid guidelines to ensure that, between us and MBC, we help those most in need.
Our volunteering application process has now closed for this season. However, if you still wish to volunteer, please contact us directly and we can let you know if we have any availability at any of our evening shelters this winter, or we can add you to our contact list for future years.
MCWS could not run without the hard work of our amazing volunteers. Although many of our volunteers come from local churches, you do not need to go to church to become a volunteer.
Our shelters run in various church venues around Maidstone. However, due to the restrictions in place this year, we will be using only the larger venues in order to comply with social distancing and other Covid guidelines.
For each night of the week there are two shifts as follows:
kitchen team: 6-9pm
Prepare, cook & serve the evening meal for 7.30pm.
Wash up and clear away.
Sanitize the kitchen each evening before leaving the venue.
welcome team: 6.30 - 9.30PM
Setting up tables
Welcoming, chatting to and serving guests
Cleaning/sanitizing all areas (including the toilets)
These jobs are essential to the smooth running of the shelter and couldn’t be achieved without the support, communication skills and teamwork of our volunteers.
Volunteering has always been a core value at Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for the dedication, care and kind-heartedness of our volunteers each winter.
If you would like to know more, please feel free to read our FAQ's below, or read our Volunteer Handbook.
Frequently Asked questions
Do I have to volunteer for every night?
No. On our volunteer application form we ask volunteers to specify which evenings and weeks they are available, plus the tasks they’d like to undertake. Our rotas are prepared using this information.
Will I be allocated all the shifts I volunteer for?
Not necessarily. We try to ensure that all of our volunteers are allocated shifts. If we have too many volunteers for a shift, we will limit the number of volunteers for that evening. This is to ensure that our guests aren’t overwhelmed and outnumbered by the volunteers. There are plenty of shifts though & we do try to ensure that all volunteers are able to help.
What if I volunteer but don’t like it?
If you volunteer but then decide it’s not for you, please just let the office know you’d rather not volunteer again. We will remove your name from future rotas and find another volunteer to cover the future shifts.
If I am on the Welcome shift, will I get dinner?
We ask our welcome team to share dinner with our guests in the same way as a family meal, so dinner is provided for evening volunteers in addition to guests, although we like our guests to be served first.
How will I know what to do if I haven’t volunteered before?
We run a couple of training sessions each winter, prior to the start of the shelter. However, a staff member or an experienced volunteer will always be on hand to guide you on your first shift(s). The teams of volunteers work really well together and are always there to support one another.
My children would like to help. Are they able to?
As we will be limited with the number of volunteers we can have in each venue this year, we regret that all volunteers for winter 2020-21 will need to be aged 18+.
Do I need any checks if I want to volunteer?
On our volunteer application form we ask for details of 2 x referees, whom we contact to check the suitability of our volunteers. These checks are undertaken every 3 years.
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.