The Folkestone Churches Winter Shelter has now provided ten years of emergency night provision to adult vulnerable rough sleepers. The Shelter was initially set up in 2009 by Richard Fitzgerald and Captain Matt Clifton, of the Salvation Army, following the tragic death of a local homeless man. The evidence both locally and nationally shows that there is, unfortunately, a greater need than ever to provide this life saving service to the most vulnerable members of our society.
I felt humbled to be able to run our Winter Shelter this year. My own experience of working for the Winter Shelter began in winter 2015, when I joined the Shelter team as Project Worker for the first time. I have loved working on the Shelter every year since.
Sarah Elliott was, once again, working alongside me this winter, as she was appointed to be the Administrator for the shelter. Sarah previously worked in this role last year and her experience and enthusiasm, as well as knowledge of many of our volunteers proved to be an invaluable asset to the running of the Winter Shelter.
Alexandra Havova came on board as our main Project Worker. Alexandra has had previous experience working in the charity sector back in the Czech Republic. Alexandra became an invaluable part of the team very early on. Her sense of humour and amazing interaction with our guests was appreciated by many and it was a delight to work alongside her.
Jon Heintz was new to the Winter Shelter team, but not new to the Rainbow Centre. Previously Jon worked for Porchlight as an Outreach Worker and as such he was based in the Centre working alongside the Homeless Support Team. He has certainly brought knowledge and experience to the role and it was a real comfort and reassurance to some of our guests who knew Jon from his previous job in Folkestone.
We welcomed Alison Lynd as part of our team for the second time this year as a Project Worker. Alison worked as volunteer for the Winter Shelter in previous years and so brought a gift set of experience into the role. She also worked in the Day Centre with the support of our Day Centre volunteers.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff and volunteers at the Rainbow Centre. Ali Chambers (CEO), John Burgess (Homeless Support Service Project Manager), Sara Heffernan and Charlie Oakes (Homeless Support Service Project Workers), Sir William Fittall (Chair of Trustees) have been thoroughly supportive of the Project and we were grateful for their backing and support time and time again.
A special thank you also goes out to the Steering Committee, working closely with the team of the Winter Shelter to provide support and guidance and ensure the improvement of the Winter Shelter every year.
To all who have supported us through another year of the Winter Shelter, thank you!
Winter Shelter Project Manager
Read the full report here