Following the article on the Winter Shelter in Muswell Hill in a recent issue of this magazine, here is an update on the situation regarding the Winter Shelter in the London Borough of Enfield. There is quite a history which some residents may not be aware of.
In 2011 the Good Samaritan Network was founded by David Burrowes (our then MP for Enfield Southgate). It aimed to support people with issues concerning housing, addictions, and those with mental health problems including ex-offenders, aiming to promote their recovery and rehabilitation. Also Identifying services both statutory and voluntary available in Enfield, and work towards filling the gaps between them. There were various workshops over several years including alcohol and drug problems, mental health and housing issues in Enfield. This work within the Good Samaritan Network resulted in proposals for a Winter Shelter within Enfield Borough.
All People All Places (APAP) had had several years of experience with a Winter Shelter in Haringey. In 2013 a representative from APAP took part in a Good Samaritan Network meeting. After a great deal of time, work and planning following this meeting APAP was expanded into Enfield. This Winter Shelter is now known as Enfield Overnight Respite. Its standards, aims and objectives being the same as in the London Borough of Haringey.
In January 2017 St John the Evangelist Church, Palmers Green became one of the seven church venues, one for each day of the week running from January to March. We welcome up to 12 guests per night. They must be over 18 years old, having been referred through APAP and will have agreed to all the guidelines and high standards for Enfield Overnight Respite. The guests move from church to church as the week progresses knowing that the same relaxing welcome awaits them at each venue. Many of the Church venues have volunteers from two to three churches working together.
Volunteers have three shifts, the evening shift runs from 6 pm to 9.30 / 10 pm; the night shift from 10 pm to 6.30 / 7 am and the morning shift from 6.30 am to 8.30 am.
When planning an Overnight Respite in Enfield the task appears very daunting. Will there be enough volunteers for each shift? Have we enough volunteers for a cooking rota, for an appetising attractive evening meal and breakfast? This will be weekly over a period of three months. Have we enough beds and bed linen including duvets and pillows that can be stored safely?
Our guests of up to twelve people per night arrive from 7 pm and are welcomed by a friendly face and offered a warm drink. They will not be worried about a bed for the night, knowing that they will be safe from harm and sleeping soundly in the warm; this soon becomes apparent as our guests relax and feel at home.
It may be difficult to settle for those guests who have been sleeping rough for some time. Any structured time can be difficult to accept especially if it has first been a challenge to seek help. We are never judgemental and our aim is to accept and assist where we can with a listening ear when needed.
Volunteers working with vulnerable people consider it a great privilege to help those in need and to give them a chance to turn their life around. We know that our overall aim is to break the cycle of homelessness and the despair that accompanies it.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Enfield Overnight Respite, or contributing in some other way, you can get in touch with:
Tom Smith [email protected]
Nick Easton [email protected]
Judith Spencer-Knott [email protected]