AN EMERGENCY night shelter in Leicester has opened its doors for the winter this week, run by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities in the city.
Housing Justice, which supports the faith groups running the One Roof shelter, said that it was the first time that so many faith communities had come together to run a night shelter. A spokesman said: “Most of the volunteers for the shelter are coming from the four faith communities, and this is testimony to the strength of the faith network in Leicester.”
Volunteers are being recruited to help out at the shelter; some are required for evening shifts to play board games and spend time chatting with guests.
“If you have a talent we can use it. Can you speak a foreign language? Can you cook? Play Scrabble? Play the piano?” volunteers are asked.
Adam May of Housing Justice said that providing company for homeless guests was central to the offering. “People come as guests, they come to eat together, to play games. It is about providing company and restoring dignity.”
Ten rough sleepers can be accommodated in the venue each night, and the venue rotates each night around seven places of worship.
The chair of One Roof Leicester is the Revd Helen Hayes, a pioneer priest who works among people who are homeless. She said “It has been such a privilege to see the seeds of an idea grow into a remarkable project that seeks to bring faith groups together to provide shelter and care for people who are homeless.”
Housing Justice was due to release its impact report into night shelters this week, which will show that 73 per cent of guests at shelters are not suffering from any addiction, challenging one of the misconceptions about rough sleepers. Between 50 and 70 church and community night shelters are expected to be open this winter to manage the rising numbers of homeless people.
The latest government figures show that homelessness among households in England has risen by more than 50 per cent since 2010.
The Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Revd Rob Wickham, has been announced as a new “champion” of night shelters, working to encourage more churches to consider working together to open shelters in places of high need.