Our church takes part(along with St. Mary’s, Osterley) in the Shelter Project Hounslow which was launched in January 2012 and brought together churches across the borough of Hounslow to provide respite care for rough sleepers over the harshest months of the winter, initially operating from January to March. Since then the project has grown as the need for respite and longer term support was realised and the number of volunteers grew to enable an increased vision.
Last year TSPH opened its doors for four months from the beginning of December to the end of March. 12 churches were actively involved in opening their church doors at night with others sending volunteers to help at other churches. The scheme operates on a 7 church model, so that one church opens up each evening to provide hot meals and overnight accommodation for up to 14 homeless men. Each guest has a caseworker who works with each of the registered homeless men to support them in finding longer term accommodation, jobs or in accessing health or financial services and advice. TSPH works alongside other agencies and charities working with the homeless.
Typically a shelter opens from 8pm until 8am the next morning. Volunteers cook and serve supper, spend time in conversation with guests, give overnight supervision, and serve breakfast before the guests depart for the day. A vast majority of funding is by voluntary donation, through the generosity of the local churches involved, personal donations and support from local business and groups. Where appropriate grants have been applied for which has enabled many of the longer term aims to be addressed. The project was awarded charity of the year at the 2013 Hounslow Volunteering Awards.