VOLUNTEERS are uniting to offer shelter to the homeless this winter, as a year-on-year rise in Rugby’s rough sleepers is expected to continue.
On Tuesday (December 1), charity Hope 4 will open the fifth annual Rugby Winter Shelter across seven church venues around town.
Guests will be given shelter from the cold, a bed, warm meals and support to help find a home.
Last winter, a total of 68 different people used the shelters, each staying an average of 15 nights – an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year.
And official counts and estimates suggested a 55 per cent rise in rough sleepers across the UK from autumn 2010 to the same time in 2014.
Hope 4 chairman Revd Dr Michael Bochenski said: “When most people think of a homeless person they tend to think of someone sleeping rough on the streets. For some, however, it is in tents, graveyards, under canal bridges, or on park benches, rather than streets.
“Many people who sleep rough will suffer from multiple health problems and are also in greater danger of violence than the general population.
“This is why for five winters now churches across the town have got together to provide a winter shelter refuge in a church hall somewhere in the town for up to 15 guests each night.”
“This emergency winter shelter provision is only made possible by the remarkable commitment of some 200 or so volunteers from churches and community groups each year, responding so compassionately to human beings in need.”
Company Secretary and Winter Shelter volunteer Joyce Woodings added: “It is notoriously difficult to get an accurate figure for the number of people sleeping rough in England at this time. Many rough sleepers become experts at hiding for obvious reasons, especially women. However over the past four winters an average of 55 guests each year used the Rugby Winter Shelter. We are expecting similar numbers over the winter of 2015-6.”
This year’s shelters will be hosted by St Marie’s (Mondays), St George’s (Tuesdays), Rugby Baptist (Wednesdays), St Matthew’s and St Oswalds (m2o) (Thursdays), Salvation Army (Fridays), Rugby Methodist Centre (Saturdays) and St John the Baptist, Hillmorton (Sundays).
Shelters will open between December 1 and March 31.
Visit www.hope4.org.uk or call 01788 572456 to volunteer – cover for overnight shifts is especially welcome.
Guests wishing to book a place at one of the venues need to register in person for each night at the Hope Centre, 8 Newbold Road, Rugby CV21 2LJ; tel 01788 572456. Referral documents can also be downloaded via the Hope 4 web-site at www.hope4.org.uk