The very first thing Lorna and I must do and on behalf of the trustees and staff is pay tribute to all our volunteers. They are the ones who make Sanctuary work, – it’s not something that we say lightly because it is true. Yes, we know it has not been the same as in previous years. Who could have foreseen having to wear a mask, to keep socially distanced and not to have the interaction with our guest as in the past. Then there is the constant routine of washing hands, sanitize, wash hands again, sanitize again – and so on. It also meant that we had to reduce the number of volunteers as we went to a 24/7 service with Covid restrictions in place because of the limited space within the building.
For those of you who were able to serve, we thank you! You did make a difference, even though we had teething troubles when we started 24/7. At times it may have even got boring, but we had to ensure that we had sufficient support even though there was not as much to do as there was at Longferry. Some of our guests were not always in attendance daytime or evening. It’s the nature of who we are dealing with, we can tell you though, that all our guests were very appreciative of what was provided on their behalf.
What we/you achieved!
Over the season, with the selfless acts of our volunteers:
- prevented just over 900 sleeps on the streets
- served over 1700 meals
- provided over 3000 volunteer hours
- served 34 individual homeless people, 25 of which slept at Sanctuary, (remember we only have a ten-bed house and not all the rooms were full all of the time).
- With the help of the Council and other agencies we have moved at least 12 guests into more permanent accommodation, and
- we had no Covid infections within the shelter itself, for which we thank God.
At the moment we do not know what Sanctuary will look like in the future. Communal sleeping is unlikely to return, but we will continue to work alongside the Council. They still see a need for the service we offer, so we’ll have to ‘wait and see’ with what happens in the future.
In summing up, we are so grateful in what we see as a God given service. As you probably know, we are a Christian charity and it is through His care for us that we have been able to achieve all that we have. We are also thankful for the help given by the Council who we work in partnership with, to all the agencies who support our guests, to all our staff who have given over and above of their time, and, most of all, to our loyal and dedicated volunteers who have given their time to support us, especially during this awful pandemic.
May God bless you all and your families.