The 2020-21 winter shelter opened on Monday 4th January 2021 and ran until Friday 26th March 2021. In view of the ongoing Government guidance surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to offer overnight accommodation (dormitory-style in church halls) during the winter. However, we worked closely with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), who provided rooms/temporary accommodation to help keep everyone safe and off the streets throughout the winter.
In order to continue supporting our local homeless community, we offered hot, home-cooked takeaway meals, food parcels and some limited socially-distanced conversation to those guests who were staying in rooms/temporary accommodation but had no access to cooking facilities or money for food. We worked within the Covid guidelines to ensure that, between us and MBC, we helped those most in need.
Due to the Covid restrictions and our revised way of working in order to adhere to those restrictions, this also meant that we were unable to accept the help of most of our willing volunteers. This is a real shame as our teams of volunteers provide a huge support network to our guests. However, the most important thing during the pandemic was to keep everyone safe from the virus: guests, volunteers and staff alike.
When it became apparent that we would only be able to provide home-cooked, takeaway meals during Winter 2020-21, some of our volunteers offered to cook from their own homes and deliver the meals to our venues. This was fantastic and some amazing meals were produced. Thank you so much to everyone who provided this support as the meals were really appreciated by all who received them.
Volunteering for 2021-22
Our volunteering process is currently closed. However, if you wish to volunteer in future winters, please click on the 'contact us' button below and send us a brief message. We can then add your details to our mailing list and let you know when our volunteering process for winter 2021-22 begins.
MCWS could not run it's normal service 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.
We usually have a variety of different shifts available for our volunteers and further details of these shifts will be shown on this page nearer to the time of our next shelter, before the 2021-22 volunteering process begins.
Our volunteers are essential to a successful shelter and we are very fortunate to have the ongoing 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.
The shelter was a joy to be a part of, given that everyone would rather it wasn’t needed. It was well run, safe and had an increasingly positive vibe throughout.
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?
The shelter welcomes young volunteers aged between 14 and 17 years old to assist with various volunteer duties, including setting up the venue and meeting & greeting guests. However, any volunteers under the age of 18 will need to nominate a responsible adult who will attend each shift with them.
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.