Ashford Churches Together  Winter Night Shelter - Homeless Image Kelly and Brian (Not their actual names)
Were sofa surfing until it became uncomfortable and Brian came in to the shelter. Kelly, missing him came in soon after. Kelly had serious health problems and was desperately scared, while Brian hid his own needs to support her. As vulnerable youngsters they should never have been in the shelter and we were able to get help from the local authority to move them to a bed and breakfast and then to have their own tenancy. We helped with benefits and the minefield of hoops they needed to jump through with mental health services and recognition of issues such as self-harm and suicidal tendencies. We also got food and supplies to set them up in their new accommodation.

Kelly and Brian regularly pop in to our various outreaches and church services. We know them well and can honestly say our smiles of delight at their progress is bigger than theirs!

Ashford Churches Together  Winter Night Shelter - Homeless Image Stacey (Not her actual name)
Was in her fifties. She had lost her home through rent arrears was divorced and estranged from her children. She came to the shelter and was ashamed, proud and vulnerable. Through our volunteers taking time and providing a non-judgemental listening ear she became a surrogate mum to some of the younger guests. Although she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, she gradually became less insular by trying to role model hope through despair to others. In short, she looked outwards again and found courage to take the next steps. Stacey moved to a partner project where she had accommodation, meaningful work and a purpose. She sees her grandchildren regularly and keeps in touch with us to celebrate – and sometimes cry over normal life events.

In 2017, Ashford Winter Shelter gave 5843 hours of voluntary aid. At the national minimum wage this would cost £43,822.25. We provided 1032 beds, 1103 evening meals and 1034 breakfasts. We gave a shoulder to 79 guests in total, and when the shelter finished.............we didn’t. We continue to support in various ways throughout the year. Why? Because our guests become our reason to continue – the hopes and dreams, the disappointments and the successes don’t disappear when the shelter finishes just as they don’t become less human by being homeless.