How NEWway started…
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 6 years, we've opened on 802 nights and provided 10,846 beds to 496 guests. Our volunteers have served 21,714 hot meals and our advocates have helped 203 people to move into accommodation and away from the streets.
Each year we make a video to share testimonies from our former guests and volunteers. Here's what they say about NEWway:
Who is involved…
Angie Allgood is the Founder and Chair of the NEWway Project, Lee and Jonathan Raggett are Project Coordinators, Abbie Russell, Ami Moulton and Robbie Powell serve as our Project Advocates, and Aggie Osmolska is our Administrator. The trustee board and steering committee draws upon the expertise of leaders of local charities, including: Ascension Community Trust, Bonny Downs Community Association, Bridges Homeless Support, Newham Foodbank, Salvation Army Stratford and Transform Newham.
The Bonny Downs/Royal Docks Baptist Church, Church of the Ascension, Highway Vineyard Church, Manor Park Christian Centre, Memorial Community Church, Our Lady of Compassion, Salvation Army Stratford, St Anne's Church Custom House, St Francis of Assisi RC Church Stratford, St Mark's Beckton, St Matthias Canning Town, St Anthony's Church Forest Gate, St George & Ethelbert’s, and St Paul's Stratford will be hosting the night shelter in their venues this year, and many other local churches will provide volunteers, financial support or donated resources to support the project too.
Although the majority of our volunteers are drawn from churches, we really value the support and generosity of our supporters who represent other faith backgrounds. Everyone is welcome to get involved!
In spring 2015, our project was awarded the prestigious ‘Excellence Standard’ Housing Justice Quality Mark in recognition of the high standard of our work. We will continue striving to provide the best possible care for our guests.
In March 2016, we were delighted to announce that our application to the Charity Commission was approved and our organisation is now a registered CIO charity (Registered Charity Number 1165966).
Why are we doing this…
We believe that everyone is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity, have somewhere safe to stay and have access to the support and opportunities they need to create a better future for themselves. In our community there is increasing amounts of housing injustice and many people are forced to sleep on the street. NEWway is attempting to tackle homelessness and hopelessness by coordinating a network of host churches where local rough sleepers can have a safe place to sleep, friendly company and advocacy support throughout the coldest months of the year when they are most vulnerable. Our year round support services seek to help people rediscover their hope and dignity so they can overcome the challenges that hold them back from securing stable accommodation.
NEWway is founded upon a Christian ethos and local churches play a crucial role in the delivery of our services. Our projects are open to all people who meet our referral criteria regardless of their faith background. We never prioritise or limit our support for people of any particular faith background.
We actively encourage people of all faiths and none to volunteer, donate and actively contribute towards our projects.
Our aim is to show God’s love in action not to push our beliefs onto the people we serve.
As part of our desire to offer a holistic service that addresses our guests’ spiritual needs as well as their immediate physical needs, we offer unpressurised opt-in opportunities for people to explore faith with us through prayer, discussion and open invitations to the host churches' services.
We are extremely grateful to the many individuals, churches and organisations who have generously donated their time, resources and money to help make this project a reality. Our MP Stephen Timms has also been actively supporting the project from the outset and been an invaluable support to our team.
We are also very thankful for the financial support we have received from our funders: