The Arklight Church and Community Night Shelter was a response to the rising levels of rough sleeping in Wirral as well as the increasing demand for supported and affordable housing. We decided to go back to the founding principles of our organisation and set up a winter night shelter.
Arklight follows the Housing Justice ‘rolling night shelter’ model, which brings together community venues which would otherwise be empty overnight to open their doors to homeless people – all staffed by volunteers. Initially, we ran a pilot project from January to March 2019, during which 9 local venues hosted the shelter for one night at a time to provide shelter to 14 individuals.
This year, we broadened the scope of the project to run from 4th November 2019 to 10th February 2020 which represented a big increase on what we provided during the pilot project. We have worked with 9 venues (5 of them new) and over 300 volunteers all giving up their time to support their community and the most vulnerable people within it.
The Arklight philosophy is to offer an alternative to existing night shelters that focuses on hospitality and positivity. Guests and volunteers are treated as equals, creating an atmosphere that promotes dignity and respect. Venues provided a hot home cooked meal each night and a full breakfast every morning, as well as snacks, activities and even a piano.
Places of worship and community venues from Wallasey to Barnston opened their doors for a week at a time to provide shelter, food and friendship and we would like to express our huge gratitude to those venues, organisations and individuals who contributed towards making the Arlight Night Shelter a success.
Impact of Covid-19 on Arklight project
The recent developments concerning the global Covid-19 pandemic have had profound and far reaching implications for homeless charities – in particular, those offering night shelter support. The government’s ‘everyone in’ policy has been a very effective tool tackling homelessness and rough sleeping throughout the country with local authorities being given the resources to house every rough sleeper. This ‘everyone in’ project has utilised hostels, B&B, hotels and other public spaces to guarantee people a place to stay during the pandemic.
As homeless people are particularly vulnerable to infection (they are part of the highest risk groups), the ‘everyone in’ policy has undoubtedly saved lives. It also shows that (with the right commitment) we can end rough sleeping and homelessness for good – it is just a matter of allocating the appropriate resources.
Now that we are moving out of lockdown, the burden of support will return to projects such as homeless charities. However, with the government’s safety guidelines disallowing the use of night shelters it is incumbent upon the charity sector, government and local authorities to find alternative ways of supporting those people who need emergency shelters.
Therefore, it is unlikely we will be running the Arklight Night Shelter this winter but we will be working hard to provide the necessary support to our society’s most vulnerable people.
We couldn’t do what we do without public support. We desperately need volunteers to help us deliver our projects and also rely on the generous donations we receive from our partners and the public. We are running a Christmas Challenge fundraising campaign via The Big Give – we hope to raise funds for key projects. We’ll also be running two events during the winter season:
- A fundraising sleep out -Kip on the Kop
- Strictly Come Dancing fundraising event.
*Details to follow.
If you would like to find out how you can support us – whether volunteering or donating – then please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org