The Redbridge Cold Weather Shelter, or nightshelter, is a shelter that runs from December to March each year. Now in it's 7th year, the centre is open every night at Ilford Salvation Army, providing warm food, shelter and hope to our guests.
The nightshelter draws volunteers and support from a wide range of organisations in and around Ilford, including representation from all major faith groups. All these groups share one central desire: to help the least fortunate in our society in any way we can.
Helping people experiencing homelessness
Every night, from 7 December to 7 March, around 35 people will be gathered outside the gate at The Salvation Army building in Clements Road in Ilford. Most will be shivering, some will be boisterous, a handful will be keeping to themselves quietly. After our network of volunteers finish preparing and setting up for the night, our guests start entering the shelter at around 8pm. Unfortunately, we can only sleep 30 people each night - prioritising the most vulnerable. That’s the hardest part of night shelter - knowing we aren’t being able to accommodate everyone.
On average, we have around 150 volunteers most of whom give up an evening a week throughout the winter. Each volunteer plays a different, but pivotal role. These roles include managing entry at the gate, welcoming newcomers inside, manning the registration desk, running games and activities, providing a listening ear and then, of course, there are our amazing cooks who serve around 3,600 hot meals and 9000 hot drinks – providing much needed relief in plunging temperatures. We also have volunteers who stay overnight to support our overnight staff with any tasks and keeping people safe. We aim to instill a belief in our volunteers that just because someone is sleeping rough, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve our love and care.
More than just a place to stay
Over the last seven winter seasons, we’re proud of the fact that hundreds of people have moved on from the nightshelter. With our local partners, we work tirelessly to give everyone the opportunity to move on. Unfortunately, the number of guests moving on has been falling over recent winters. This is part of our motivation behind Project Malachi, which tries to tackle the problem of entrenched rough sleepers. In the meantime, the nightshelter will be needed to provide a safe place for people this winter.
Want to know more?
If you want to volunteer, click on the button saying 'Volunteer Now' in the sidebar. You can also follow us on facebook or twitter, or make a donation to the nightshelter as we get ready for the coming winter.