In a few days time (Friday 2nd December 2016), I will be repeating my annual journey of negotiating 17 sessions of Church Winter Night Shelters over each successive Friday 7pm until Saturday 8am, to be based at Ferndale Baptist Church. I have posted a few thoughts on what is involved a little earlier (click here) but for now I am writing specifically to those who want to know more about what we do and what is involved for those thinking about volunteering.
We are one of seven shelters operating for four months throughout the worst part of the year weather wise. Despite the excellent work our partner, HARP, does in accommodating otherwise rough sleepers, it can’t help all. That is where we step in. Even then, we don’t help everyone, especially those with special needs or behavioural issues, but we do what we can. While I can only speak for Ferndale, a lot of what I am about to say applies to the other six shelters too. We all rely entirely on volunteers, and gifts from whoever wishes to give to us, in order to do what we do. While our ethos is unapologetically Christian, we recognize no-one has a monopoly on compassion, and our volunteers are of all faiths and none and widely diverse – from all walks of life and outlooks on the world. The one thing that particularly unites us is that we care for the well being of our guests and we work together as a team.
While there is a lot I would like to say, I will instead refer to three documents (click onto the links).
- About the CWNS program (overall) – presents the big picture and key principles (click here).
- About the Ferndale CWNS – some basic facts would be volunteers need to know (click here).
- A Ferndale CWNS volunteer application form – details you need to complete and return if you wish to volunteer (click here)
Finally, while I would like to provide an inspirational ending, much of what I would like to say, I have already said (read my blogs). I am under no illusion that we merely touch the surface when it comes to addressing the needs around rough sleeping and, sometimes we have to recognize our limitations and we can’t sort out many specific individual needs, let known the causes of rough sleeping in the first place. But our track record is such that we know we have made a significant difference in the past and we are confident we will do so in the forthcoming season. Our volunteer cohort have invariably fed back that for them this is a valuable, worthwhile experience. We can’t always guarantee an easy ride, for such is the nature of rough sleeping we sometimes have to expect the unexpected, but we do operate a safe and supportive environment and welcome kindred spirits, resulting in together making a much needed difference.
If you are interested, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s go from there!