RECORD numbers of homeless people used Rugby’s winter shelter this year.
Charity Hope 4, which runs the shelter across seven church halls in the town, said a total of 68 people registered from December to the end of March – the most in its four-year history.
Guests are given shelter from the cold, a bed, warm meals and support to help find a home. This year guests stayed an average of 15 nights.
Revd Dr Michael Bochenski, who has co-ordinated the town’s Rugby Winter Shelter for the past four years, told the Observer last November he expected a significant increase in numbers and his predictions were correct.
The 68 people who registered this year, after two new churches were added to cater for an expected increase in demand, represented an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous year.
“This has been another remarkable year of interchurch and community partnership,” Michael said.
“Because of it we have been able – again – to respond compassionately to the needs of some of our borough’s most vulnerable people.
“What price can be put on a hot meal, a warm bed and hall, and a good breakfast in a winter as cold as this one has been at times? Compassion and hospitality such as this is priceless.”
Hope 4 also runs The Hope Centre supporting homeless and badly-housed people all year round and helps to coordinate Rugby Food Bank.
In 2014 The Hope Centre served some 5,514 hot meals to those in need.
Pete Wayman, senior support worker at Hope 4, said: “The Hope Centre is often a first port of call for people who are needing winter shelter in the town.
“Most guests are first referred to us by staff at the council or the Citizens Advice Bureau and we then seek to offer them help which is free at the point of need.
“Without the donations of volunteer time, food and money from hundreds of people across our town we just would not be able to do this.”
Rugby Winter Shelter in numbers
68 – registered guests
1,033 – bed nights for guests
32 – the average age of a guest
64 – the oldest guest’s age
18 – the youngest guest’s age
35 – nights the temperature dipped below zero degrees betwee December 1 and March 31
16 – guests helped towards permanent housing