ITVET are pleased to be volunteering for Holy Trinity night shelter in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, to ensure that they can meet the new Covid-19 guidelines and open this Winter. Working with the night shelter, ITVET will provide vital volunteers to wire the electrics for the pods that are being erected to ensure compliance to social distancing guidelines.
Holy Trinity night shelter and community outreach was set up by Reverend Brown and Megan Kervin from the salvation army. The shelter offers critical warmth and shelter from the harsh conditions at this time of year, to those in need from the local community.
Last year, the centre opened at the end of November until the end of March to provide night shelter during the winter months. Over that time, they sheltered 30 people, 4 of which were constant throughout the entire season. The previous year saw nearly 50 people pass through for support.
David Perry, Operations manager, for the charity spoke about the impact that Covid-19 has had on the homeless community:
This year has been a challenge for most people, but for those on the streets, it has added a new complexity to what is already a complicated daily life. Areas which would normally offer a welcome respite like local cafes and libraries are now closed meaning many are on the streets without shelter, all day every day. Other benefits like volunteer work experience and social initiatives which are vital to build self-esteem, gain references and get people back on their feet, are not able to run.
Luckily, the government has banned evictions, and the furlough scheme is helping some people temporarily, but the Food bank is starting to get busy with Christmas just round the corner – there are a lot of people struggling this year.
Night shelters around the UK are having to change their set up to adhere to the new government guidelines. This is resulting in delays to shelters opening when temperatures are already starting to plummet.
Holy Trinity night shelter would normally open in November but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the church has had to bring in a raft of new measures including social distancing in the main hall.
We’ve had to make significant changes to how we support those that need us. We cannot offer the same service as we normally do, so we need to find new ways of helping people get back on track.
At this point, we do not think we will be able to open until after Christmas – there are tighter risk assessments due to COVID-19, we still need to get the centre ready and source meals which can be served individually, and we now have to train our new volunteers remotely.
ITVET is just one of the organisations who have offered to help. They will install the electrics for each of the 7 pods altogether. Each Pod gives a resident a self-contained locker, charging point, and iPad from which we provide on demand television for the evening.
Normally, beds are rolled out into a communal hall area which is no longer possible, so the Pods are a great solution. Each Pod is created from plasterboard to give some soundproofing with a closed door and a window and vents. Guests will have access to a table and a charging station so that they can make important contact . Providing the guests with their own safe space and food and beverage making facilities, like a little hotel room will help with their mental health and hopefully, ensure they get back on their feet, as soon as possible. There will also be a little area outside where they can sit down and chat. As David says:
We know the centre makes a real difference. Last year, we have 5 former residents return to volunteer. They wanted to give back, and help others transform their lives as they have.
The centre offers so much more than just shelter. David and his volunteers offer 1-2-1 guidance to help residents get back on their feet including helping with doctors’ registrations, organising work experience, and assisting with accommodation applications. The centre is still look for support.