The 2024 winter shelter will open on the afternoon of Tuesday 02 January 2024 and close on the morning of Tuesday 02 April 2024.
In order to run efficiently each winter, we rely on the support of our many willing and capable volunteers and we are really pleased to have so many people who are happy to give up their time and skills to support us in our work.
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.
If you wish to volunteer to support our work this winter, please click on the link below and complete the application form.
Our volunteers are essential to a successful shelter and we are very fortunate to have their ongoing support, communication skills and teamwork. 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.
Our shelters run from various church venues around Maidstone and we have a variety of different shifts available for our volunteers. Further details of these shifts are shown below.
afternoon roles: 3.15pm - 5.45pm
Prepare and offer drinks/light refreshments
Socialise with and support guests
kitchen team: 6-9pm
Prepare, cook and serve the evening meal for 7.30pm
Wash up and tidy away
Clean and sanitize the kitchen
Set up / welcome team: 6.30-9.30pm
Setting up camp beds with sleeping bags etc
Setting up tables for dinner
Welcoming and serving guests
Eating a meal alongside our guests and socialising with them at the evening's activities
Tidying away tables/chairs etc
Cleaning & sanitizing all areas
OVERNIGHT STAFFING: 9.30PM - 7.30AM
We will have 1 x paid overnight member of staff and 2 x overnight volunteers each night (at least one must be male). The staff member will stay awake all night whilst 1 volunteer will stay awake for half the night whilst the other sleeps, then the volunteers will swap for the second half of the night.
The ‘awake’ volunteer helps to ensure that our guests remain safe and comfortable, sometimes just listening or making a cup of tea if that is needed.
On weekend mornings we will be offering breakfast at the shelter. However, on weekday mornings our overnight guests will be offered breakfast at Maidstone Day Centre, so we will not be offering breakfast facilities at the shelter from Monday - Friday.
breakfast team (Weekend mornings): 7.30am - 8.30am
Prepare and serve breakfast
Prepare packed lunches for guests to take away
Clear away and sanitize the kitchen afterwards
tidy up team: 7.00am - 8.30am (Weekdays); 8.00am - 9.00am (weekends)
Weekdays: Offer overnight guests a cup of tea biscuit before they leave for breakfast at the day centre
Pack away camp beds, pillows etc. Put sleeping bags and pillowcases into sacks ready for laundering.
Tidy and clean the sleeping areas
Ensure the property is left in good, clean condition
All the above 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.
If you would like to know more, please refer to 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, together with 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 our volunteers are allocated shifts. If we have too many volunteers for a particular shift, we limit the number of volunteers for that session. 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 set up/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 16 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. We also undertake DBS checks for our project staff.
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.