What did we do pre-Covid?
We gave food and shelter to homeless and needy people. We provided a hot meal, usually consisting of jacket potatoes, beans and cheese, and also an alternative which can range from sausage and mash, beef casseroles, chilli and rice, chicken casserole with pasta. We often had puddings like fruit crumbles or jam sponge and cakes and biscuits were always available. There were about four volunteers who regularly cook these meals. We served hot drinks, and bedtime drinks too, like Ovaltine and Horlicks.
We also tried to create a very safe place for our clients to be in with an accepting and non-judgemental attitude. This helps to create good harmony where our clients can relax. Company and companionship is missing in many lives. Often our clients just want to talk, and we try and listen as best we can. We try and help in other aspects of their lives where we can but it is always at the clients’ own pace.
We had an average of 12 clients staying overnight and another 20 coming for food. We often gave food parcels away as well as socks and toiletries, all of these items were in great demand.
In the 6 months from 1st October 2019 to 16th March 2020, when we closed, we were visited by 197 different clients. Of these 43 were rough sleepers who stayed overnight.
We were very blessed with good volunteers and we had 20 volunteers who came regularly to help, either in the evening or in the morning. There was a lot of setting up to do, each evening, with the bedding, and food. In the morning too there was a lot to clear up and pack away. A simple breakfast is prepared by volunteers. We often had some clients who called in on us in the morning as well.
We do not have rotas for our volunteers, and over the years we have found this works well. Sometimes we never know who will turn up and the busy period 9.00pm - 10.00pm can be a bit chaotic but a volunteer recently said, "even when it doesn't work, it seems to work!"
We try and work with other organisations as much as possible. We are often given clothing, and this is all put out on a table for our clients to help themselves.
A couple of shops, Gaia and Haddie & Trilby, kindly donate bread to us when they are able, the leftover food items are given to the Salvation Army Drop In Centre on a Monday morning. We work with the Food Bank and give out vouchers when appropriate.
We often take our clients to the Council, or write letters on their behalf to help with their housing problems, and we have built up good relationships with people who work in the Housing Department at Warwick District Council.
Leamington Night Shelter is a Christian initiative that was formed out of Hope 08. Our first night was at Bath Place Community Venture on Sunday 15th February 2009.
When this sadly burned down in September 2009 Radford Road Methodist/URC Church kindly gave us space and since March 2010 we have been able to open on both Sunday and Wednesday nights, finishing with breakfasts on Monday and Thursday mornings.