Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter

St Andrew’s hosted between 13 and 15 guests as part of the ECWNS project on three Saturday nights/Sunday mornings during March.  The guests were homeless men and women who are being given somewhere warm and dry to sleep during the winter months whilst they are finding somewhere to live. 

The guests arrived at 7.30pm and, after they had been signed in, they decided which bed they were going to sleep in and get themselves settled in. Then they were shown around and welcomed with cups of tea, coffee and biscuits.  Later on, after saying grace, they were served with a 2-course evening meal by the volunteers.  Everyone sat down together to eat and to chat.  After dinner, the evening was spent reading the papers, chatting or playing board games etc.  Lights out was at 11pm – by then most of the guests were already in bed asleep.  The following morning, after a wake-up call at 7am, the guests were given breakfast of cereal and bacon sandwiches or toast, before they left just after 8.30 on Sunday morning. 

The fold-up camp beds and the bedding (duvets and pillows) were then packed up and transported to St Barnabas (where the guests were to spend Sunday night); and the laundry (i.e. bedding and towels) packed in bags ready to be washed and dried ready for the following Saturday night.

The breakfast volunteers left just after 9.15am, their job done.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the members of St Andrews (and other churches) who helped out in a variety of ways – as volunteers for each of the three shifts – evening (6pm-11pm), overnight (10.45pm to 7pm) and early morning (6.45 to 9am); to Lynne Cheatley who cooked the evening meal (for 20 people) on each of the three Saturdays; to those ‘extra’ volunteers who came early to help put up the camp beds and make up the beds (putting on the duvet covers and pillow cases), putting out the towels and wash bags, and setting up the tables and chairs for dinner etc; and those ‘extra’ volunteers who came to help after breakfast to wash up, to put away the tables and chairs, and leave the kitchen etc.clean and tidy; to Jamie and volunteers from the other churches who transported the beds and bedding to St Barnabas.  

It has been a real privilege to be able to help in this way as part of the ECWNS project and to welcome as our guests the men and women the project helps during the winter months and I sincerely hope we, at St Andrew’s, will be able to do this again next year.  However, in order to do so we will need to encourage more people to assist in a variety of ways – even if it is just for an hour so helping to set up or clear away.

Watch this space for more information in the months to come……….

Marion McNeill