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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Winter shelter talks continue

December 09 2011
 Pilot scheme could start as early as next year


Plans for a winter shelter in Birmingham (see the February issue) are beginning to move forward, with the possibility of a pilot scheme as early as next year.

Housing Justice, a national charity for action in the housing and homelessness sector, is supporting the talks. Housing Justice, which believes that human dignity is challenged by the lack of decent housing, supports night shelters, drop-ins and hundreds of practical projects nationwide by providing advice and training for churches and other community groups who work with homeless people.

They support and encourage churches and other groups to set up, run and develop winter night shelters through their publication, Shelter in a Pack. Typically, a shelter is open from November to March and operates from a different church each night of the week. Guests are provided with a cooked evening meal, somewhere to sleep and breakfast before they leave in the morning. Most shelters have a referral procedure and aim to help guests find accommodation and step back into settled society.

Representatives of SIFA Fireside, the Christian Life Centre and churches from across Birmingham attended a seminar event to discuss setting up a winter shelter in Birmingham and to start turning words into action.

The group will discuss various options, including working towards a shelter for 2012-13, with meetings taking place from the spring to ensure all the work is completed ready for the winter. Another possibility is a ‘pilot shelter’, starting in mid-January 2012, to get the ball rolling - churches and centres across the city could help support and host one night of the project.

Winter shelters are an essential service for surviving the tougher months through the harshest, coldest conditions; however, the schemes that Housing Justice supports go further than simply offering a roof for the night. They also look at the bigger picture and at the wider issues for the individual. Alison Gelder, the director of Housing Justice, said: “Every year, church winter shelters save lives by not only offering simple hospitality, but playing an invaluable role in the services homeless people need to help them back up the ladder to homes and jobs”.

We shall cover this story and attend the meetings, so let us know if you’ve comment or strong feelings on this.

• Housing Justice’s Shelter in a Pack can be seen at: