A Church of England parish situated in the diverse London Borough of Redbridge, we greatly value our distinctive role in serving not just our own congregations but also the whole of our vibrant and cosmopolitan community. We have strong links with people of other - or no - faiths and traditions in Wanstead and beyond, and our friendship and solidarity with everyone in our local area is heartfelt.
We warmly welcome everyone, irrespective of race, age, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation.
Our parish is spreading its wings in all directions; particularly our outreach programme. We work with Redbridge Foodbank, where our provision has quadrupled; we are seeking to sponsor a Syrian refugee family; we offer bereavement services, and a chaplain service at court. Increasing amounts of people, desperate for help, knock on our doors.
Our new pilot scheme - a Winter Night Shelter for Wanstead
This winter, we are joining forces with the Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter (FCENS), who do an amazing job in the Waltham Forest area, by offering up our parish halls every Tuesday night from January to March 2020 to act as a winter night shelter to take another 30 rough sleepers off the streets during the coldest time of year. FCENS churches run the night shelter on a rota scheme, with each church hosting one night a week. The London Borough of Redbridge currently has a limited number of night shelters; ours would increase the provision in the local area and extend the FCENS scheme into Redbridge, whilst still being open to referrals from the Waltham Forest area.
The video above explains how many churches already help with this vital work. We really want to be a part of this.
How will we go about this?
Our parish has an active social media presence, and we have attracted a lot of local support for this project. We already have a volunteer list of over 70 people ready to shop, cook, make beds and greet our guests. Some have already attended a training day run by FCENS; others will be trained on the job.
We have our humans lined up - we now need financial resources. We will need to purchase food supplies, tableware, microwaves, hot plates, ground sheets, sleeping bags, toiletries and more. Room dividers to protect the privacy of our guests. We’d like to welcome all our guests with warm hats, socks, gloves and fresh underpants. There will be increased heating, electricity and cleaning costs associated with keeping our halls open overnight.
We will be benefiting from the experience of the shelters already run by FCENS, who will be providing us with advice, training and a staff member who will be on duty during our shelter evenings.
Our guests will also - should they desire - be given advice and help on accessing accommodation in order to help them break the cycle of rough sleeping, as well as assistance accessing welfare, health and social security benefits. We hope that many will go on to secure fixed accommodation and employment.
What your money buys
To run the shelter for one winter season will cost circa £4000 - with higher initial set up costs for the first year such as bedding, tableware, room dividers etc. plus food, toiletries and associated power, cleaning and laundry costs. In addition, we would like to provide extras to make our guests’ stay more comfortable.
£5 buys 6 pairs of clean socks, hats or gloves.
£15 buys a bulk pack of hand warmers or foot warmers.
£15 buys an essential toiletries and underwear pack to help people on the first step to a new life away from the streets. This could include: socks, underwear, razors, shower gel, sanitary items, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste.
£20 buys a new, warm sleeping bag.
£30 buys heating, water and power for the night.
£50 buys all the ingredients for one night’s dinner and next day’s breakfast, or the cost of cleaning the halls after our guests have left for the day.
£300 buys one large mobile room divider to protect guests’ privacy (we need two of these at a minimum).
£400 is the amount that FCENS gives each church to help cover some of the expenses for this season; raising our own funds means that FCENS could direct that money to other shelters that need support.
Building Community Resilience
This new scheme will further strengthen our local community, as we come together to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Its not about us, however. Rough sleeping has a grave effect on homeless people’s mental and physical health resulting in an average age of death of just 43 for women and 47 for men.
Giving rough sleepers a safe haven that offers them a bed for the night, a warm meal, some company, and access to advice and assistance in securing longer term accommodation and eventually employment, will improve their environment and, we sincerely pray, enable them to live well for longer. We hope they will go off in the morning having had a restful night of sleep, a decent breakfast inside them, and the sense that they are valued and cared for.