Each night, dozens of people in Colchester are sleeping rough. They have no home to go to, no roof to sleep under, and very little to protect them from the cold and the wet of the winter. This winter, St Peter’s Church are making available their Church Hall. Ideally situated in the Town Centre, with space for up to a dozen rough-sleepers, the Hall will be the venue for this winter’s St Peter’s Guest House Project.
The idea is to welcome those in need, to serve them a hot meal, to spend time getting to know them, to seek to help them in ways appropriate to their needs, to offer them a comfortable and safe bed for the night, and then to offer them a warm breakfast in the morning. In other words, the idea is to treat them like guests.
Beacon House are partnering with St Peter’s to make this possible. Based on East Hill, with years of experience in supporting and helping the homeless, Beacon House are taking the lead in recruiting and training volunteers for The Guest House, and are overseeing the practical arrangements.
The Guest House will open again in December 2016. Those seeking help with be able to register for a bed at either the Nightshelter or at Beacon House, and only those who have pre-registered will be admitted on that night.
What about the Night Shelter?
The Night Shelter in Alexandra Terrace can’t provide shelter for everyone. The Guest House will supplement the Night Shelter provision through the worst of the winter.
Isn’t this quite dangerous?
We don’t take anything for granted, but there will be training from Beacon House and careful assessment of risk. To be on the safe side, volunteers have to be over-18.
How many volunteers do you need?
Hundreds, probably. But we already have more than 80. It will all depend on how much help each volunteer can offer.
Can I just turn up and help out?
No. To ensure the safety of both our guests and our volunteers, it is important that everybody is trained and vetted before being serving on the team. The doors will be locked each night for security.
Do you have to be a Christian to be involved?
No. Anyone is welcome to join with us. You don’t need to be a professing Christian, although we would expect you to be sympathetic to our values and ethos.
Do I have to do the whole night?
No, although we’re hoping some will! Any help on any shift will be highly valued.
How can I get involved?
Easily. Just ring or email to express your interest.
Isn’t this just a drop in the ocean?
Yes. But the ocean will be smaller because of that missing drop.
How could I be involved?
There are a number of opportunities to be involved.
VOLUNTEER AS A TEAM MEMBER
Each night, we are looking for a team of at least four adults to staff the Guest House. Perhaps you could volunteer as a team member (and maybe with friends!) for:
- for the evening shift (6:30-10:15)?
- or for the night shift (10pm-7am)?
- or for the morning shift (6:45-9am)?
- or even a whole night?
VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH CATERING
Each evening, we will look to serve a hot meal. Local businesses have offered to provide the food, but we will need people who can collect the ingredients (probably from Beacon House during the day) and deliver the cooked meal to St Peter’s Church Hall on North Hill.
VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH CLEANING
Each morning, there will be a significant amount of cleaning to be done between 8am and 9am. Perhaps you could offer your assistance then?
VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH SPECIFIC NEEDS
We are still coming across things we need, or things that need to be done. We would love to build up a list of supporters to whom we could turn in times of need or crisis!
How could I be a partner?
PARTNER WITH US IN PRAYER
All that we do will need to be supported in prayer, and perhaps you might commit to pray for us. Specific prayer needs will be circulated regularly; to be included in this list, please send your email address to [email protected]
PARTNER WITH US FINANCIALLY
Although the majority of the costs are being met by St Peter’s Church and by Beacon House, inevitably there are further costs. Perhaps you could give towards the Guest House Project.
- online: bank transfer to St Peter’s PCC, Santander Bank, sort code 09-01-54, account 36051087; referenced Guest House Project.
- cheque: make payable to ‘St Peters PCC should be marked Guest House Project and sent to the Vicarage, Balkerne Close, Colchester, CO1 1NZ.
PARTNER WITH US PROMOTIONALLY
This is a new project, and we are looking to promote this as far as possible. Perhaps you could let people at your church, in your workplace, at your local school, or in your local shops know what is going on…
The date for the next Training & Information Evening will be available shortly.
For further information, or to offer assistance, please contact:
Mark Wallace (Vicar of St Peter’s)
Vivienne Wiggins (Manager of Beacon House)
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6 v 8)