Northampton church will reopen voluntary homeless shelter for 100 nights this winter

A Northampton church has promised to open its doors to rough sleepers and homeless people again this winter.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 6:31 pm
New Covenant Church, on Kettering Road, will reopen its doors as a homeless shelter this winter.
New Covenant Church, on Kettering Road, will reopen its doors as a homeless shelter this winter.

New Covenant Church was praised last year when it took action against a bitterly-cold winter and offered 10 people a night a place to sleep, shower and eat a hot meal.

More than 50 individual people took refuge in the chapel's halls between December and March in 2018, in a community effort helped by some 150 Northampton volunteers.

Now, the chapel at the junction of Kettering Road and Wellingborough Road has announced it will reopen its doors again this winter - and is asking for residents who can give up their time to help make it a success once again.

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A rough sleeper beds down in Abington Street. Official figures have found that seven homeless people died in the town during 2017.

Pastor Phemi Ajayi of New Covenant Church, which will run the shelter alongside Shine Northamptonshire, said: "The whole town has really supported us. Over 150 volunteers came out to give up their time last year. We really do have an amazing town. We are very proud of it.

"We asked ourselves, 'how can we leave church and lock up for the night when right there on our doorsteps are homeless people sleeping in freezing weather? It just didn't make sense."

It comes after a report in February 2019 showed more than half a dozen homeless people lost their lives in Northampton in 2017 - marking the town out as the worst in the region for such deaths.Every night from December 21 through to March 31, New Covenant will open its doors to up to 10 people a night and offer them a hot meal, a shower, board games and a place to bed down safely for the night.

However, while the church was supported by a £9,000 grant by the Big Lottery Fund last year, this winter the are going it alone and will have to operate through their own means.

It means the shelter will need help from volunteers and donations more than ever.

Now, the church is asking for residents to offer their time later this year.

Phemi said: "It makes such a huge difference. I only hope this time we will see less of the people who visited us last year, because they have managed to get their lives back on track.

"I think it was quite successful last year. It got quite a few people off the streets. I even know how one man was able to get his driving license back while staying with us and was able to find work again."

Volunteers can help by taking shifts for the evening meal between 7pm and 10pm, overnight between 10pm and 6am, and to pack up in the morning between 6am and 8am.

Anyone interested in volunteering can email [email protected] for information.

Meanwhile, the church is accepting any cash or material donations to help the shelter, and in particular, are keen to stockpile coats, socks and sleeping bags.