Statistics released by C.H.A.I.N in 2013 reported that the number of rough sleepers in Newham had risen by a shocking 57% compared to the previous year. Across the borough, Christian leaders from a wide range of churches and local charities began meeting together to plan ways to support the growing numbers of homeless people in our community. Rather than just saying “someone should do something”, we were moved by the description of ‘true fasting’ in Isaiah 58 and worked together to launch a new winter night shelter service.
We based our delivery model on the established GrowTH night shelter, which has been successfully running in the nearby borough of Tower Hamlets for many years. We also got involved with Housing Justice, a national charity that supports churches to launch and deliver high quality night shelter services. After completing a successful pilot circuit during the winter of 2013/14, we decided to continue offering a winter night shelter every year as long as the need remains.
How NEWway works
We recruit at least 7 churches who take it in turns to host the shelter for one night each week throughout the winter months. Our teams of volunteers provide warm beds, hot meals and friendly company for up to 15 guests per night who are referred to us by specialist support agencies. Our Project Advocates work alongside these professionals to help secure permanent accommodation for the guests, so they do not have to return to rough sleeping on the street at the end of their 28-day stay. We also run a range of free daytime services (including free showers, laundry facilities, life skills workshops and employment support) to help our guests increase their resilience, health, independence and wellbeing.
What difference is NEWway making?
Over the past 8 years, our shelter opened on 892 nights and provided 10,870 beds to 520 guests. Our volunteers have served 21,984 hot meals and our advocates have helped 224 people to move into accommodation and away from the streets.
Each year we try to make a video to share testimonies from our former guests and volunteers. Here's what they say about NEWway: