Hackney Winter Night Shelter seeks permanent venue to shelter homeless all year round

The Hackney Winter Night Shelter team at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Bouverie Road, Stoke Newington,

The Hackney Winter Night Shelter team at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Bouverie Road, Stoke Newington, in 2018. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Hackney Winter Night Shelter is fast tracking its plans to find a permanent venue to house the homeless all year round.

All communal night shelters are currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, so the charity which runs the shelter has decided to find a property that can be made Covid-safe for its “guests”, volunteers and staff.

Hackney Doorways has run a “roving” shelter for 25 years during the winter months where people stay at a different venue each night, which is more often than not a church.

The charity had already decided to to adapt the model to offer more tailored support for individuals through its advocate workers before the pandemic broke out and is now bringing forward the plans.

It is now looking for a property which could accommodate between seven to 15 people, so that each person could ideally have their own room or stay in a much smaller shared space, with the ability to self-isolate if necessary.

The charity’s director Christina Ball said: “These are uncertain times for everyone, and it is a pivotal time for us, but as a charity we want to make sure that we can continue to help those who are often at their most vulnerable.

“One of Hackney Winter Night Shelter’s greatest strengths has always been the involvement of the community and the charity will continue to work with its large network of churches, faith organisations, schools and community groups to realise our ambition much more quickly than we had originally planned.

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“We will also work alongside our volunteers to make sure that our new venture is safe and welcoming for those who need our help, both now and in the future.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the people of Hackney so that future guests will experience the same kindness, generosity and hospitality for which Hackney Winter Night Shelter is renowned.”

Anyone who can recommend an empty property is asked to email manager@hwns.org.uk.

The charity’s women’s shelter has been operating from a large house in Hackney for the past 12 months, after setting out as a pilot project part-funded by the London Mayor’s rough sleeping innovation fund.

Women have reported their health and wellbeing have improved and many have been able to secure more stable move-on housing to transition out of homelessness.

During the lockdown the women’s shelter remained open 24 hours a day and kept five women safe, with the support of staff and a reduced team of volunteers, and the charity is now seeking funding to continue the project.