This week sees the end of this winter’s Bracknell Night Shelter, in which we at EBC partner with six other local churches under this wonderful scheme set up and run by the charity Pilgrim Hearts.
From the beginning of December through to the end of March, the Night Shelter offers an evening meal, somewhere safe and warm to sleep and a breakfast in the morning.
At EBC, we host the Night Shelter on Wednesday nights into Thursday mornings, and our team of volunteers, led by our Social Action Team Leader, Fay Philp, has done a wonderful job.
This year was probably the most challenging we have had so far. There were quite a few mental health issues, combined with the usual drink and drug problems. It was a huge learning opportunity which was embraced by all our volunteers. This year has also seen huge differences in our guests between the beginning of December and the end of March. Some have found housing, some have been able to get better help and support with their medical issues and some are working hard towards getting themselves back into regular work.
Each week we have had on average 15 guests, although over 40 have registered for the shelter. EBC has been supported by over 30 volunteers who have worked on a rota basis. In addition to that we have had people who have helped out by washing sleeping bags and towels and repairing camp beds.
Most of the leaders at EBC have been able to come and be part of the Night Shelter this year. That was really appreciated and gives real encouragement to our volunteers and shows support to our guests.
As overall Team Leader at EBC, I want to add my own huge thank you to Fay and the team who have worked so hard and care so much for the people who have found shelter this winter under our roof.
I have had only a little first-hand experience (the odd breakfast shift) but it’s really obvious how much of a difference the scheme makes to people – and not only those needing shelter but also those volunteering. There is a tremendous sense of “rightness” about it – clearly this is a good thing to do on so many levels and I believe it enriches and enhances the lives of those helping as well as those they help. Why? Because they make a difference – a real tangible difference to people in their time of need.
Simply put, it enriches peoples souls – I believe God smiles on them in this work and that should be no surprise when what is being done lines up so clearly with Jesus’s teaching about how we should care for others in need.
For more information about the Night Shelter, have a look at the short video on the Pilgrim Hearts website by clicking the link below. If you’re a regular at EBC you will certainly recognise the filming location and some of the faces!
The final thing I’d like to say about Night Shelter has to do with the people using it. Many of them are only there because some misfortune has befallen them. What’s striking is that it could just as easily be you or me in such need – we’re not promised an easy ride and we can all unwittingly be just a few steps – just a shot away, to borrow a phrase – from finding ourselves needing such shelter ourselves.
This Easter, as we think about the nature of love, sacrifice and redemption, please spare a thought and better yet a prayer, for everyone involved with the Bracknell Night Shelter scheme.
See you in church!