Many Churches, One Purpose – Swansea Night Shelter for the Homeless 2014
April 1, 2014There are many different Christian churches and denominations, but we all have the same basic calling - to worship God, to share the Good News about Jesus Christ and to work for the good of all people. So why don’t we work together more often? When we do we are acting as one body in Christ, deepening our fellowship, unity and love, but without losing what makes each of us different and special.
Swansea Night Shelter 2014 Elim City Temple, Dyfatty Street; All Saints, Mumbles; St Stephen’s, Port Tennant; St. Paul’s, Sketty; Lifepoint, Uplands; Christwell United Reform Church, Manselton; Linden, Evangelical Alliance, West Cross; Mumbles Methodist; Parklands Evangelical Church, Sketty Park.This winter, along with a long list of other churches, the Anglican churches of St Paul’s Sketty, All Saints, Mumbles and St Stephen’s, Port Tennant have been involved in providing night shelter for the rough sleepers of Swansea in their buildings. The Swansea Night Shelter is a network of Christians working together to provide food, and a gathering place for up to 12 guests per night through the worst of the winter months. Guests are accepted through a professional referral process, (such as Swansea Housing Options and Shelter Cymru). This year the arrangements have been extended to asylum seekers. Swansea Drug Project and the Police are also involved supporting the scheme both at senior and community levels. Each church hosts a different week-night. For volunteers this means three shifts where we provide hot meals, fellowship and sleeping facilities; we make no apologies for being Christian. Each morning, the host church takes the guests to begin their day at Zac’s Place - and transports the bedding on to the next venue.
The links with other agencies Rough sleepers can get laundry and a shower, advice on benefits, housing and training from the Cyrenians Community Centre. The YMCA offers support and a means of earning a legitimate income through selling the Big Issue magazine. The Wallich Rough Sleepers Intervention Team provide hot food and drink as well as survival equipment for rough sleepers. Martin Whatty Chairman of this Swansea Council Scheme said “…working with churches has been amazing, we couldn’t possibly hope to provide this level of support”.Because the churches have worked together, over 700 bed spaces have been provided, allowing guests a period of stability, warmth, care and positive social support. This respite gives guests the opportunity to see possibilities of an alternative lifestyle and to realise that they are not alone. One guest said, “It helps to get us ready to engage with the agencies....I have made a lot of new friends and it has cut me down on alcohol and drugs because it’s not acceptable here, it’s helping people get their life back in order”. And finally, what have we learnt as volunteers?
- Churches can do far more together than they can do separately.
- Together we can discover a deeper unity and closeness in Christ.
- Working with the homeless challenges our gospel witness and pre-conceptions.
- We have been able to make better use of our buildings.
- Our volunteer teams have grown in faith, learning to trust in the power of prayer.