This winter the Birmingham Winter Night Shelter offered in a number of church halls across the city did not operate because of lack of central organisation.
There was a promise to look at other, more manageable, ways forward.
There is a meeting today to consider one possible way forward.
The proposal is to continue the model of each church taking a different night a week but rather than hosting in their own church a team of volunteers from each church would run the shelter together but at one central venue, namely Birmingham City Mission Care Centre.
Birmingham City Mission Care Centre have been involved with the shelter in some form since it began in 2012. In last couple of years the care centre has been one of the venues for the shelter, initially having stepped in when one church was not able to host at the last minute. Their role in the shelter and their understanding of the complexities of homelessness have made their contribution to the shelter invaluable.
A few years the ago the care centre was refurbished and BCM are keen to find ways to use it further to support homeless and vulnerable people. With this in mind and in conversation with the shelter working group we are proposing a new model for the shelter which we would like to pilot next year.
There is still a lot to be worked out but having discussed this at length with the shelter working group this is the direction being explored now.
The proposal is a 6 week pilot next winter, and so if this is to go ahead the team will be looking for 7 churches willing to participate next year.
There are some significant advantages to the one venue model, in particular it would create a more settled environment for guests who would not have to move around each night of the week and would therefore have a bit more stability. It is also much more manageable from a central coordination perspective cutting down on the need for transport and bus pass costs. We recognise that one of the appeals of the previous model is that each church was able to host in their own space, but we hope that in each church being responsible for a particular night of the week that the sense of team that has worked so well in previous years will continue.
Given that each church will be hosting in a venue that is unfamiliar, BCM are keen to make sure that there is an experienced person/people at the venue during the evening who can help should any issues arise.
In the meantime please remember that the permanent provision for homeless people that is now offered by the Catholic Church at Tabor House.
Tabor House, Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter, is looking for volunteers to help, especially overnight and mentors.
Interested in finding out more?
Come to Open evening: Weds 20 March 6pm – 8pm at St Anne’s Training Room, 96 Bradford Street, Birmingham, B12 0PY.
Contact Sharon McCall: 07387 418319 for further information.
If you have a view on all this please email the parish office.