For the third year, the Ashford churches combined efforts over the winter months to provide emergency accommodation and food for rough sleepers in the community. The Alpkit Foundation supported the project by awarding funding which was used to buy Dozer camping mats for guests to sleep on, we were keen to find out how the project went.
The Ashford Winter Night Shelter is the only option for shelter and food for the homeless people of Ashford. Run from December to March by volunteers and funded by the churches and other trusts, it gives guests the opportunity to get a shower, a hot meal, a bed for the night, breakfast, and – where possible – a packed lunch for the day. Currently the project rotates to a different church building every night, however they aspire to find more permanent accommodation for future projects.
With no current permanent shelter, the Winter Night Shelter volunteers sought camp beds that were portable yet as close to a real bed in comfort as possible, as Lauren from Ashford Vineyard explains:
“Previously we have used camp beds at the Winter Night Shelter, but as they are transported so much they break often and few are in usable condition. We are looking for longer lasting alternatives which won't be so much of a struggle to use. I have my own Dozer which I bought for volunteering at children's camps and found it still so comfortable after 2 weeks solid use and in perfect condition several years later.”
“The Winter Night Shelter was a huge success, with 58 guests accessing the shelter for at least one night. We were able to help 24 guests into longer term accommodation and 5 into employment. Many were helped to access medical care and other support systems and 7 guests were helped to obtain benefits previously suspended or not claimed.”
“We are especially pleased to report that almost all of the beds used this year will be suitable to use next year, should the Winter Night Shelter still be required. We hope that in future a single, specific building will be sourced to shelter the homeless, either over the Winter or preferably more of the year. In this event the Alpkit Dozers will be donated to be used permanently in this building, to whatever organisation is running it. They may also be lent out to individuals and families who, having been housed, find themselves in need of emergency beds while seeking out furniture.”
Lauren explained why the project is so important to the community:
“We believe that it is our duty and privilege to help those who need help… We sincerely wish that a homeless project would not be needed in Ashford and that everyone could be housed and in work, but until that day we feel it is up to us to help give our guests not just what they need today, but also hope for the future.
We have already seen lives transformed through this project and we wish to see more.”
If you’d like to know more about the project, visit www.ashfordvineyard.org
The Alpkit Foundationsupports projects that enable people to overcome the obstacles preventing them from Going Nice Places and Doing Good Things. For more information on how you can apply for funding, visitalpkit.com/foundation#apply