The Winter Night Shelter at Wimbledon has offered a welcoming, safe, warm environment for many years to the ever-increasing numbers of homeless across Merton. Guests have the opportunity to take stock and receive input from the wider Central Team to realise their aspirations.
Our guests are offered a place in the Winter Shelter following an interview and wider checks for suitability via the Central Team who provide ongoing support and advice to us throughout our designated block. With a maximum of 15 guests, once they’re accepted to the programme they have the opportunity to remain within the shelter for the whole Winter period, spread over several other faith venues across different days of the week. Wimbledon Synagogue hosts Monday evenings / overnight and Tuesday breakfasts, supported by a wonderful group of Wimbledon Synagogue volunteers, offering different skill sets such as cooking, baking, sewing, general organising or simply by offering a listening ear.
Each guest receives a welcome pack put together by volunteers and children from our Cheder, which usually includes a rucksack, socks, underwear and gloves. Although there is a maximum capacity for guests, our residents may change over the 7 weeks as work or accommodation is found throughout this period. Each year delivers positive outcomes and success stories along the way – either housed or in the process of being housed. Many guests capitalise on the opportunity to work throughout the Night Shelter period, enabling them to save money for a deposit on accommodation.
We are always on the lookout for a new generation of volunteers, with multiple shifts accommodating our community’s existing commitments. From one shift to seven shifts (or more!), all are welcome. Younger members of the community have helped in the kitchens, preparing meals and raising money through their B’nei Mitzvot projects or Duke of Edinburgh volunteering. From cooking an individual course to turning up for so many shifts (including overnights), the willingness to offer time and companionship is heartening. Volunteers have shown amazing flexibility; responding by covering other peoples’ shifts during illness or emergency and picking up new and additional tasks when the need arose. Within our Community, new friendships have been made because of this programme.
Despite the upheaval of recent years due to Covid and the loss of a number of long-standing volunteers due to other commitments, our last Night Shelter at the synagogue saw 47 volunteers cover 219 individual shifts, making and serving around 160 evening meals and 98
breakfasts across the 7 weeks block. We receive wonderful donations of clothing, bathroom items, financial donations and funds raised from events, which all contribute to making our facilities the ‘5-Star’ location for Shelter guests.
The Winter Night Shelter is an enterprise we are extremely proud to support at Wimbledon Synagogue, making a genuine difference to people who often need little more than that first step back on the ladder.
Please look out for more information as Winter approaches.