Night shelters to be a 'lifeline' for homeless in Ipswich
Ipswich churches are getting ready to open their churches up as shelters for homeless people this winter.
Church halls will be open from 8pm to 8am seven days a week from December 4 until March 2014, providing a place of shelter and protection for those sleeping rough during the coldest months of the year.
Seven churches will take it in turns to host the shelter, offering 12 beds to men and women each night.
Volunteers will welcome, cook for and eat with the guests, and this year also marks the initiation of a new befriending scheme.
The Right Reverend Dr David Thompson, Acting Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, has welcomed the initiative, calling the winter shelters "a real lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in our community".
"I'm thrilled that people from so many churches are working together to open them up for another year, and hope that lots of those who hear about the project will support it with their time and their donations," he says.
Extra funding is needed to ensure that homeless people receive sufficient support and that their every need is provided for.
Minister for Church and Community Engagement within the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, and chair of the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter, the Reverend Canon Paul Daltry, has said that he is "very proud" of the response that churches in Ipswich have made to the issue of homelessness in their community.
"Our urgent need is to encourage even more new people to step forward and volunteer for this challenging but rewarding work through the months ahead, as we expand what we offer," he said, before noting that they are hoping to enrol a further 100 volunteers.
This is the third year that the night shelters have been run in Ipswich, based on a model developed by the Christian charity Housing justice, which has been running projects in London for over 20 years.
Other cities running church-based night shelters this winter include Luton, High Wycombe and Canterbury.