Night shelters

Christian churches and communities have long traditions of providing shelter, and Night Shelters for those experiencing homelessness have been around for many years.

The grassroots nature of a shelter project means that each is different and there are many different variations of how to run a shelter. However, there are also common values and ways of working that ensure night shelters are effective and safe places of support for those in need and the volunteers who staff them.

The most common model is the Rolling Church model, where a different church offers shelter and hospitality each night of the week. These churches are bound together as a Night Shelter by a common referral system, and offer a continuity of care in the way they look after their homeless guests.

The Shelter is geared towards offering Christian hospitality to homeless people including those who have been living on the streets. This hospitality is more than just tea and sympathy, more than a bed and safe shelter for the night. It also seeks to include a supporting and caring arm to help people to rebuild their lives: so we are making a real difference to people, offering through personal transformation the opportunity to ‘move on’.

For new projects there is a need for a steering group or management committee to share the development work: the innovation and sharing of ideas, each person bringing particular perspectives. This can take time but is essential, especially as the result is people from different churches and backgrounds working together effectively and bringing real change to people’s lives.

In financial terms, in the setting-up year, Housing Justice asks for a fee of £1,500 towards the costs of the series of meetings that draw the Shelter project together. This also includes Housing Justice membership.

Shelter in a Pack is our toolkit for churches setting up new shelters. This is now provided as part of our package of support to new shelter projects.

To see if there's already a shelter in your area that could use support, see our Housing Justice shelter map. To find out more about starting a shelter project and to contact to one of our expert Shelter co-ordinators please click here.

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