More than 271,000 households were recorded as homeless in England at the start of 2023 according to charity Shelter. And, with temperatures set to drop this winter, it can be a dangerous time to be sleeping rough.
Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter (ECWNS) is run by a coalition of churches in the borough and provides shelter for up to 14 rough sleepers, for up to 6 weeks or more.
The shelter is open during the winter months, from late November to the end of March.
Shelter worker, Marie Newstead, said: “I was homeless myself, and came to the shelter. I managed to get myself back on my feet, and I’ve now got a studio flat and I got a job working here in 2019. I understand the situation that people can find themselves in.
“It’s somewhere safe, warm, with regular food and where you can have a shower. It’s not nice having to use public bathrooms to try and keep yourself clean.”
The shelter’s staff offer help and support with medical appointments, applications for benefits, getting a passport and lots more.
If you want a bed in the shelter you have to be referred by St Mungo Broadway’s outreach team (020 8840 9653), Acton Homeless Concern (020 8992 5768) or Ealing Soup Kitchen.
How you can help
Most local charities, including ECWNS, rely on local people for support. ECWNS is looking for volunteers, to work in shifts and provide meals, fellowship and nighttime supervision.
If you are interested, you can complete an online volunteer registration form.
Toiletries and gift vouchers for coffee shops, bakeries and supermarkets are gratefully received. Most supermarket vouchers cannot be used to buy alcohol or tobacco. If you would like to make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council’s cabinet member for safe and genuinely affordable homes, said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough. Rough sleeping at any time of year is dangerous, but when the weather turns really cold it can be potentially life threatening. We work hard to ensure everyone who needs a bed for the night in the borough can access the right help and support. But we could not do this without the support and commitment of ECWNS and other local charities.”
Food and essentials
Ealing Soup Kitchen has run on weekends since 1973 for anyone that needs hot, nutritious food. It also runs drop-in sessions when it provides clothes, food, a barber service, showers, foot care, practical help and games.
StreetLink is a referral service that can be used by anyone who is sleeping rough, or wants to help someone sleeping rough.