Ipswich: Army of volunteers thanked for giving up their time

AN army of volunteers were today thanked for their generosity – which will ensure homeless people are kept off the streets during the coldest nights of the year.

The Winter Night Shelter scheme involves seven churches which will open every night during a three-month period, giving rough sleepers the chance to escape the chill.

The scheme will offer a bed, a place to eat and wash, and a team of volunteers on hand to offer help and support.

Rev Canon Paul Daltry, minister for church and community engagement, thanked volunteers for embracing the scheme after it emerged more than 350 people had signed up for the initiative.

“We have had over 350 volunteers come forward offering their services which is incredible,” he said.

“Last year we had 250 people involved, so to think so many more people want to get involved is great.

“It’s amazing that people are offering their time like this and I have been really encouraged by so many people who have signed up to help. I find it very heartwarming.

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“We still have places available for volunteers during the night shift and the morning shift. The night shift runs from 10pm until 6am and the morning shifts starts at 6am and finished at 9am.”

The seven churches involved will provide 12 beds a night for men. The organisers behind the project work alongside hostels and the council to assess homeless people in the hope of arranging long-term housing.

Rev Daltry said a number of people had been donating goods to ensure rough sleepers are made as comfortable as possible. Donations of toiletries such as toothpastes and toothbrushes are still needed.

The project, which successfully launched as a pilot last year, starts on Wednesday, December 5 and will continue until Sunday, March 3.

Last year’s project helped 37 people during the 68-night project. Ten of the 37 guests went on to find permanent homes after the project finished.