On the morning of 11th January 2020, we were delighted to welcome Sophie Mayor from The Haven – Kingston’s local night shelter for the homeless.
Sophie is the Night Shelter Coordinator for the charity, Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness, (KCAH). Over the Winter months KCAH runs a night shelter, The Haven.
An Open Access shelter
Sophie explained that The Haven is an open-access shelter which means that people are able to arrive at any time during the night, (some shelters only allow people to arrive before a certain time). This enables some of the most vulnerable people to be able to find shelter. Each night, meals are provided by local restaurants and cafés. Various services may be provided by local businesses such as eye testing, chiropody, drug and alcohol-related counselling, and digital training.
Volunteers from local community
The Haven could not operate without its team of over 350 volunteers from the local community. All volunteers receive training and then will help out at the shelter on one of four shifts that operate each night. Some volunteers may only be able to help out a few times over the Winter, others may help on a more regular basis.
Helping people find sustainable accommodation
The Haven has a good track record of helping its visitors into sustainable accommodation – last year sixty people were helped. Sophie explained how this involves working closely with individuals and accompanying them to appointments as well as providing practical help to enable them to successfully transition to life in housing, particularly for those who may have spent many years on the streets.
“Inspiring and uplifting”
Speaking after the service, Rabbi René Pfertzel said, “It was really inspiring to listen to Sophie speak about the work of the Night Shelter. In particular about its success in helping people into sustainable accommodation. It was also really uplifting to hear about the huge number of volunteers from the community – both individuals and businesses – who contribute to the successful running of the shelter. Some of our KLS members already help out with the Night Shelter but I’m sure many more will be inspired to do so after hearing Sophie speak this morning. I also look forward to KLS working more closely with KCAH in future”.
Sophie said “It was lovely to be invited to speak to the community this morning. I was really impressed that the community asked so many questions, especially the young members, and many people approached me afterwards to ask about volunteering opportunities. I look forward to welcoming many KLS members to the Night Shelter in future!”
To read more about the work of KCAH and The Haven, click here. If you are interested in volunteering then see here. If you’d like to donate items to the shelter see here for those items needed at the present time.