Winter Night Shelter
Updated: Nov 1
St Andrew’s PCC have committed to partnering with the King’s Arms Project (KAP) to enable a winter night shelter for Bedford this year. We hope that the whole Church family will get involved in this vital project, without which there would not be provision for the increasingly numbers of people who are sleeping rough on the streets of Bedford this winter.
How can I get involved?
Pray for the project: those who will use the night shelter and for volunteers.
Volunteer at the night shelter by clicking here. Volunteers are sought for evening, night and breakfast shifts; a group from St Andrew's are already volunteering, and have suggested we run an evening shift as a group.
Help to staff a Warm Room at St Paul’s Church so that those using the night shelter have somewhere to go during the day, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donate by following this link. £44 provides a warm, safe bed, an evening meal and breakfast for one night.
Why is the Winter Night Shelter needed?
During COVID, the government's 'Everyone In' provision meant that all people who were street sleeping were given emergency accommodation. Locally, this was in the Mercure Hotel. This funding is now coming to an end, and so increasing numbers of people are once again sleeping rough in our town, just as the weather turns cold. There are a limited number of bed spaces for people who are homeless in Bedford, but all of these require formal referral and paperwork. We are therefore in the situation where people have nowhere warm or safe to sleep during the worst of the winter weather.
What does the Night Shelter provide?
A bed for the night in the KAP building on Harpur Street
A hot evening meal
Laundry and washing facilities
An experienced outreach worker on site each night
Security staff for everyone's safety
Breakfast each morning
The Kings Arms Project has over 30 years of working with people who are homeless, and has the expertise to offer real support that leads to change.
What will this cost?
£44 per person per night.
The Winter Night shelter will offer 20 beds, and be open from the beginning of December to the end of February. The total cost of the project is £75,000.
The PCC have offered seed funding of £25,000; this was the amount needed urgently to allow the King's Arms Project to begin to set processes in motion and begin to recruit volunteers. In other words, our donation mean that the Winter Night Shelter can go ahead. KAP are seeking the remaining funding from other supporters.
Can St Andrew's Afford this?
The PCC and Finance Committee have been working towards releasing some of our investments to pay for mission and ministry now. The need to become less reliant on investment income has been shared with the Church Family, and the response to the planned giving campaign has increased our regular income to the point where some level of disinvestment is possible. £25,000 represents only around 5% of PCC investments (not including the Hall Trust.) Disinvesting this amount to give to the winter night shelter, equates to an annual drop in income of less than £1,500, or less than ½ of one percent. Releasing these investments still leaves us with considerably more reserves than are set out in our reserves policy.
The Gospel Imperative
You may like to revisit the scripture readings from Homelessness Sunday, including:
Isaiah 58:6-9: I want you to share your food with hungry people. I want you to bring poor, homeless people into your own homes. When you see someone who has no clothes, give them yours.
James 2: 14-20: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Matthew 25: 31-46: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
I am also reminded of a quote from St John Chrysostom ‘Not to share our own wealth with the poor is theft from the poor and deprivation of their means of life; we do not possess our own wealth, but theirs.’
How does this fit with St Andrew's Vision?
In our Mission Action Plan (MAP), within the Stewardship strand, St Andrew's commits to 'using our resources courageously,' and aims to 'release resources to support our vision priorities.' Within our Kinship MAP strand, we aim to 'engage more deeply with issues of social justice.' In their July meeting, the PCC identified community engagement as one of three key priorities for this year. You can read the full MAP here.
Given our MAP, ongoing discussions around our finances, the clear and immediate need for a winter night shelter, and indeed numerous conversations within the Church family over the last two years, it feels as though this is one of those times that the Holy Spirit is so clearly at work that she cannot be ignored.
If you have any questions or would like to know more detail about our involvement with this important project, then do please ask Lucy, Joseph, Carol, Ian R or any other member of the PCC.