Ipswich: Hundreds volunteer to help the homeless this Christmas
(exclusive-with panel)SUFFOLK: An abundance of goodwill and festive cheer from hundreds of volunteers is helping to keep homeless people off the streets of Ipswich this Christmas.
More than 300 people from across the county have signed up to the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter – a pilot project which sees one of seven churches opening their doors every night until mid-February offering those sleeping rough dinner, bed and breakfast and a chance to escape the winter weather.
The Reverend Canon Paul Daltry, minister for church and community engagement within the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: “The shelter is running at full capacity with 12 people and we expect them to stay with us throughout Christmas and New Year.
“I’m really proud of Ipswich and how it has responded. This is a shining example of The Evening Star’s I Love Ipswich Beacon Town campaign.”
Rev Daltry, who chairs a group of Christians which organised the winter night shelter, added: “I think we need to pat ourselves on the back because of the way the town has responded.
“The more Ipswich can do this, the more we can all stand proud of our town.
“We didn’t really know what to expect and we were really not sure how many people would volunteer, but to have more than 300 is amazing. We are so thrilled about it.
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“I think that Ipswich has been needing something like this for a very long time, and the fact it is finally happening is fantastic.”
Ipswich is the second highest for rough sleepers in the eastern region and it is believed there are around 40 people homeless in the town with some in and out of different forms of accommodation.
Graham Miles, vice chairman of Ipswich Winter Night Shelter, said the volunteers have come from across the county including Stowmarket, Leiston, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe as well as from Ipswich.
“It’s also a case of multi-faith communities helping out and working in partnership,” he added.
The churches taking part in the scheme are Holy Trinity Church, Ipswich International Church, The Salvation Army, Hope Church, Burlington Baptist Church, St Mary’s Church and a combined shelter from Christ Church URC Baptist Church and St Pancras Roman Catholic Church.
The venues provide 12 beds a night for men and women while around 14 volunteers welcome the guests, cook for those staying and eat with them.
Mr Miles added: “The scheme is due to run until mid-February but if it is still cold then we will keep it going until such time as the weather turns.”
For more information visit www.iwns.org.uk
n Do you know someone homeless and want to have a say on this? E-mail email@example.com or you can write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.