Ipswich: Churches open their doors to homeless for cold winter

The Rev Canon Paul Daltry, Minister for Church and Community Engagement within the St Edmundsbury an

The Rev Canon Paul Daltry, Minister for Church and Community Engagement within the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, and chair of the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter with project supporters at Christchurch, in Tacket Street, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Churches in Ipswich are planning to open their doors to the homeless this Christmas.

Volunteers will open the churches throughout the bitterly cold winter nights as shelters for those sleeping rough on the street.

The initiative has been welcomed by the Rt Rev Dr David Thomson, Acting Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, who said the shelters would be a “life-line” for some of Ipswich’s most vulnerable people.

Seven church halls in Ipswich will open their doors on December 4, from 8pm to 8am seven days a week until March, to ensure no-one has to sleep rough during the coldest nights of the year.

One venue will be open every night to cover every day of the week, offering 12 beds to men and women.

Volunteers are also planning to cook for those staying and eat with them.

This year a new befriending scheme is also being piloted and two new churches are joining those opening their doors to the homeless: St Margaret’s, in Bolton Lane and All Saints, in Chevallier Street.

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Bishop David Thomson said: “The winter shelters are a real life-line for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“I’m thrilled that people from so many churches are working together to open them up for another year, and hope that lots of those who hear about the project will support it with their time and their donations.”

The Rev Canon Paul Daltry, Minister for Church and Community Engagement within the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, and chair of the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter, said: “I am very proud of Ipswich and the churches and how they have responded as a community to help the homeless during the last two years.

“Our urgent need is to encourage even more new people to step forward and volunteer for this challenging but rewarding work through the months ahead, as we expand what we offer. Our target is to enrol another 100 volunteers to work alongside our current team, across the seven church shelters.

“We are looking for people who are prepared to undertake a wide variety of work, from working in kitchens to serving food, from welcoming guests to clearing up when they have gone. The particular needs are for volunteers for the overnight and for the morning breakfast shifts.”

The seven town centre Churches that are opening this year are: on Sundays Hope Church in Fore Hamlet, on Mondays All Saints in Chevallier Street, on Tuesdays St Mary’s at Stoke, on Wednesdays Ipswich International Church on Barrack Corner, on Thursdays Christ Church URC Baptist Church and St Pancras Roman Catholic Church off Tacket Street, on Fridays Burlington Baptist church off London Road, on Saturdays St Margaret’s.

Each church will have a group of volunteers and helpers to receive the guests.

Fundraising is already well underway to support the winter work and the Suffolk Food Hall are among those helping on December 6 when there will be a glass of wine, mince pie, tastings, the Phoenix Jazz band will be playing.

BBC Presenters Mark Murphy and Lesley Dolphin will be there, and girls from the Ipswich High School for Girls will be modelling clothes from Coes fashion department. Tickets costing £7.50 are available from the Suffolk Food Hall.

More details of how to become a volunteer, help fundraise or to donate toiletries are available by calling 0790 007 3721 or by emailing info@iwns.org.uk.