Project Spotlight: Leamington Night Shelter

I am a second year Undergraduate student studying English Literature at Warwick. I have always been really interested in volunteering, having previously volunteered in a charity shop and in primary schools. Along with volunteering through the English Department to teach literature at a school in Coventry, I was also really interested in helping out with the homeless in Leamington. Living in Leamington Spa currently, it is clear that help is needed, and looking through the Warwick Volunteers site I found out about the Leamington Night Shelter and was keen to know a lot more about the charity itself!

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The Leamington Night Shelter is a fundamentally Christian initiative; it was originally formed from the organisation Hope 08. Hope 08 began in the year 2006. Three friends believed that they could help share their passion for helping others and encouraged churches to join together around the world to serve their communities and those in dire need. Roy Crowne, Mile Pilavachi and Andy Hawthorne instigated the joining of 1,500 churches in helping those disadvantaged individuals, creating a way in which communities could be helped through sharing a faith which remained at the heart of the vision.

Leamington Night Shelter has taken on this vision and extended this shared enthusiasm to help others through the creation of a new night shelter, which was based in the Bath Place Community Venture in February, 2009. Sadly, this location burned down in September 2009; however, Radford Road Methodist/URC gave the charity a new base in which to set up again. Since November 2009, this has been the location for the Leamington Night Shelter which is open on Sunday and Wednesday night and Monday and Thursday mornings.

The shelter wishes to provide a safe and warm environment in which their clients feel welcomed and nourished – they provide food and shelter for those who are in need the most, and the essentials that clients need which they can take away with them. But I think most importantly they provide a place in which the clients can build a community for themselves – a place in which they can come together and laugh and talk and just feel absolutely comfortable in which they can be themselves without the everyday pressures that they face.

A little apprehensive at first, I went along to my first evening at the Shelter at the beginning of Term 1. The shelter houses the most wonderful and welcoming volunteers and clients, and I immediately settled into the tasks in which I engaged in. The volunteers have no set schedule, but some of the tasks include setting out the beds and the clothes which are at the disposal of the clients, helping make teas and coffees and serving food, setting out the donations  which clients are encouraged to take away with them and helping out with the signing in desk. There is always something to get involved with, and I have always felt appreciated whenever I have attended an evening at the shelter. At the beginning of the evening Margaret and Chris, the charity’s organisers, lead with the Lord’s Prayer, reminding everyone of the Christian foundation to this charity. Even though being supported by a church, the shelter is absolutely inclusive and welcomes any clients and volunteers from any backgrounds and of all faith or none.

Visiting the shelter most Sunday nights, I have been privileged enough to witness the ways in which this charity is so fundamental to the homeless community of Leamington Spa. I have witnessed the benefits of the many initiatives they provide, the most recent one being the gift of new walking shoes to some of the most disadvantaged at the shelter, and really understood how Leamington needs these sorts of charities. Along with the Leamington Winter Support, which operates at the Priory Club in Clemens Street, the Leamington Night Shelter provides a way in which a community can get together to give support to those who need it the most.

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It was so simple to get involved, and I am so happy that I found out about this organisation. Margaret and Chris are always so grateful to receive help in any form, whether this is money or donations or a helping hand at the shelter itself. The church is located at the bottom of the parade, CV31 1NF and is open on Wednesday/Thursday and Sunday/Monday from 9:00pm-9:30am for clients. They are always so happy to meet new volunteers, and over the seven years it has been open, over 700 individuals have visited the Night Shelter.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope this has encouraged you to get involved with this charity or any similar charities around campus or at home which aim to provide safety and security to the most disadvantaged. To get involved with the Leamington Night Shelter, send your interest to Warwick Volunteers (volunteers@warwick.ac.uk) and they will pass your contact details on to them.

Alexandra

The Leamington Night Shelter is an external opportunity.

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