Sunday 30 June was our last drop in session for the season but we are already working on plans for this coming winter. As with every year, there are lessons to be learned and so we will be making the following changes:
This year Sanctuary became an independent charity with its own governance and trustee board. From next winter, we will focus on providing an overnight winter shelter based at Longferry Court. Within the shelter we plan to offer meals and showers, which returns us back to our original response to those sleeping rough on the street.
We will continue to partner with Gravesend Methodist Church, although it does not come under the banner of Sanctuary as they are two different organisations with different governance structures.The Methodist Church has made a great success of the Daytime Homeless Hub run by their centre manager Vicki Clarke and so it makes sense to maintain our link, as many of our guests use both the daytime hub and the overnight shelter.
As a result of a number of meetings with Gravesham Borough Council we will be working more closely with the council to try and reduce the numbers of rough sleepers within the borough. This is as a result of initiatives by local and national government that has released some grant funding to pay for outreach workers and the employment of an overnight coordinator for our night shelter.
Our aim this year is to provide just a night shelter that offers showers, hot food and overnight sleeping arrangements between the months of October-April, seven days a week. This is dependent on finding sufficient volunteers and financial resources but at the current time we are quite confident that this can be achieved. It does mean that we may not run the evening drop-in sessions so that we can focus volunteer efforts on the night shelter.
We will become part of the council’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) where we will provide beds for those rough sleeping in temperatures at zero degrees or less.
For this year, we will be interviewing all guests that attend Sanctuary to ensure they are seeking help and are in need of the services we provide. In other words, we will no longer have an open door policy. To support this, we plan to open up Longferry Court during the mornings each week where guests can register and be interviewed by one of the pastoral team.
The community hall at Longferry Court requires a number of modifications to make it a better place for the night shelter. This includes the installation of blinds, a new kitchen, showers, washing facilities and providing a sleeping area for our volunteers. We also plan to have it completely redecorated.
We now have an established Pastoral Team of six experienced volunteers who have the right skills to provide assistance and understanding of specific guest issues.This proved essential during last winter when guest issues caused problems and unrest for all users of the shelter. We plan to increase the size of the team to accommodate and include daytime sessions at Longferry Court where they will interview and register guests who are suitable for the overnight shelter.
As well as continuing to pay for a part-time project manager and volunteer administrator, we will be recruiting someone who is paid to be an Overnight Coordinator. This person will supplement our volunteer coordinators and will give us more assurance that we can open up each night.
We do hope that those who served this year, can continue to do so. You can apply now for next winter by filling in the following application form.
We know that not all our supporters are of faith, but we do thank God for what he birthed in Sanctuary and pray that he continues to bless what we do.
We trust that during this summer period our volunteers will enjoy a well-earned rest and we hope you will support us again in the new season.