Coventry Winter Night Shelter
Coventry Winter Night Shelter run by Coventry Churches provides rough sleepers with support, a hot meal, a safe and warm bed for the night.
Volunteer training sessions now available
Coventry Winter Night Shelter is holding two volunteer training sessions for 2017, the first aimed mostly at new potential volunteers, and the second geared towards returning volunteers. Both volunteer training sessions will be held at CLM The Welcome Centre, Parkside, CV1 2HG. The first session is on Thursday 9th November at 7pm, and the second is on Thursday 16th November, also at 7pm. Whether you have applied to volunteer with the Coventry Winter Night Shelter or are considering it but have doubts or questions, the training and awareness raising event is designed to give you a first approach to homelessness in Coventry and how the project works. The sessions will be looking at issues such as the profile of CWNS guests, an overview of the running of CWNS, safeguarding, do’s and don’ts, and an opportunity to meet the venue coordinators and other volunteers! For more details, visit www.facebook.com/pg/CoventryWinterNightShelter/events.
This is a real life-changing project that helps people living on the streets to cope during the winter nights whilst helping them to move off the streets. Homelessness is an acute problem in the city of Coventry and across the country. 4 years ago, a pilot project was launched to try and help solve the problem, and so Coventry Winter Night Shelter was born.
On this page, you will find information about the project, what we do, who we help, and how you can help. You will find relevant information about how to volunteer with us, and what a normal day is for the Winter Night Shelter. Finally, we invite you to find us on Facebook and social media to keep up to date with news about the project and resources that help people understand better the challenges and difficulties faced by homeless people.
What is Coventry Winter Night Shelter CWNS?
Coventry Winter Night Shelter (or CWNS, as we affectionately call it) is a project that started during the winter of 2013 as a pilot project. Run by Coventry Churches around the city, it provides rough sleepers with support, a hot meal, a safe and warm bed for the night and some breakfast. The project runs from the 1st of December 2017 until the 31st of March 2018.
Homelessness has no nationality, no religion, no colour, no sexuality and does not discriminate on the basis of age. Most of the problem is hidden, and the statistics do not reflect where people are struggling to maintain a roof over their heads by perhaps staying with friends ‘sofa surfing’, or where families with children are in bed and breakfast accommodation.
Those who find themselves street homeless are particularly vulnerable especially at this time of the year. Most will have complex stories and will be used to hearing the phrase ‘you don’t fit the criteria, we are therefore unable to help you’. In our venues, people sleeping rough will find a warm place that welcomes them and keeps them off the streets for the night.
Beyond ensuring that those we let into our shelters do not compromise the safety of our other guests and our volunteers, CWNS do not set any criteria for entry. Regardless of nationality or gender, we will look after up to 20 people at our 7 Churches each night, 7 days a week. They are our guests, and our aim is to provide them with the service they need and the dignity they deserve. These are the churches that are taking part in the project:
Sundays: St Margaret’s (Dec-Jan) and St Alban’s (Feb-March)
Mondays: St Columba’s church, Canal Basin
Tuesdays: Methodist Central Hall
Wednesdays: St Osburg’s church
Thursdays: Salvation Army, Upper Well St
Fridays: St Oswald’s church, Tile Hill
Saturdays: St Columba’s church, Canal Basin
We also look to work with our local services and rely heavily upon the generous support of local organisations, Churches and individuals, who give in so many ways. We keep in contact with different partner agencies that support the homeless across the city, working with the Salvation Army, St Basil’s, Jesus Centre, Crisis, etc. And for food we have been partnering with Midland Langar Seva Society for the past three years to provide a warm meal in some of the venues. But the soul of the project, those who make this adventure possible, are the volunteers.
CWNS relies on the priceless help of hundreds of volunteers, whose support is essential to ensure that the venues stay open. Every year lots of enthusiastic volunteers come to help in a great variety of roles, from serving and cooking food, to socialising with our guests, preparing the beds, leading shifts, and even volunteering to wash the linen that go in the sleeping bags!
Volunteers are the backbone of the project, and we are very committed to making their experience a remarkable one, putting their gifts and skills to action, and taking every step to ensure a safe environment both for them and for the guests themselves.
A normal evening at CWNS
The nights are divided into three shifts:
Evening Shift (7 until 10pm): volunteers typically arrive at 7pm or earlier in order to start preparing the venue. They will start cooking or re-heating the food for the evening, set out the tables and chairs, build the camp beds (in some venues they let the guests do it themselves) and check that everything is in order for the night.
During the shift, guests will arrive, make themselves comfortable in one of the beds and enjoy a warm meal provided by other charities like Midland Langar Seva Society and FareShare, or by volunteers themselves. It is a time to enjoy and socialise, play some games like chess, and provide a good atmosphere of welcoming.
Night shift: runs from 10pm until 7am. Normally the guests are fast asleep, but there need to be at least three volunteers taking it in turns to care for them, and volunteers will take it in turns to sleep for a couple of hours if they need to.
Morning shift (7 until 9am next morning): after a comforting night’s rest, this shift sees the guests off once they have filled their stomachs on a warm breakfast. There is much to do because we have to leave things as we found them! Packing the beds, gathering belongings, having breakfast and cleaning the premises before nine is quite a challenge, for sure. And then it’s time to get ready for the night at the next venue!
Volunteer with us
After all that you have read, perhaps you have decided to join us. Welcome! We are delighted to work with people from all ages (age 18+) and walks of life: some volunteers are students at university level, some are working parents, some are single and some are retired! Whatever your circumstances, we will always accept any volunteer that is willing to commit their time and are ready to work with homeless people.
The safety of the volunteers and guests is our number one priority. For this reason, we have a referral system in place with background checks to ensure that the guests will not be a threat to other guests and our volunteers. We take any kind of verbal abuse and violence very seriously and strive to make all the volunteers feel safe and comfortable.
To apply to become a volunteer, please click to download the Word document CWNS Volunteer Application form 2017 V1.1 or complete it online via docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSecxIkzcvRakrr3fqC5u70-rRsNJCbTzKOHmisaA-f5zzVfEw/viewform. If you would prefer a paper version, at all seven venues we have got paper copies of this application form, and we are aiming to have copies in other churches around the city.
Please send the completed application form to Bernardo at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Bernardo Cañas, C/O Esther Storey
The Welcome Centre
47 Parkside, Coventry
Once again, welcome to the Winter Night Shelter!