Rugby Churches Open for the Homeless
Churches in Rugby are once again opening up their buildings for the homeless and badly housed this winter.
For each night until the end of March a church in the town will offer a camp bed, supper, bedding and breakfast as part of the town's winter shelter programme. Rugby Baptist Church will open its hall every Wednesday.
Catholic, Anglican, Salvation Army and Methodist churches are among the others which will open their halls.
The shelter volunteers, mostly members of local churches, will work three shifts: supper, night and breakfast.
The programme is spearheaded by the Hope 4 (Rugby) charity in partnership with REVIVE - a network of over 30 churches in the town, the
borough council and the national Housing Justice Coalition.
Hope 4's chairman is the Revd Dr Michael I Bochenski, minister at Rugby Baptist Church, who is co-ordinating the project.
He said, 'After demonstrating clearly the need for this kind of shelter in Rugby during the winter months last year, it soon became clear to us as Directors that we need to plan to do this for the forseeable future.
'And so this winter I am very pleased to say that we will again be able to offer shelter, warmth and hospitality to rough sleepers in the town as any caring community should.'
Last winter from 1 December 2011- 31 March 2012, Hope4 opened Rugby's first ever seven-day winter shelter for homeless and badly housed people.
They provided 853 bed nights with an evening meal and breakfast to 56 people who otherwise would have been sleeping rough or sofa-surfing.
Out of those 56, Hope4, working with the Council and other housing agencies, helped 18 of them to secure accommodation, some of whom are also now in full time employment.
Pete Wayman, senior support worker at the Hope Centre, said, 'It was the Winter Shelter that first revealed their need and we were then able to act. We want to do the same this winter too.
'We are determined in Rugby that no one should sleep rough on our streets during cold weather and we are even more determined to do all that we can to ensure that no one will die on our streets because of neglect, ill health or by freezing to death.'
Dr Bochenski added, 'When I first came to Rugby I was told that rough sleeping is only a serious problem in larger cities like Coventry or Birmingham.
'Our experience last winter told us a different story. All the signs are that cold winds are blowing through the West Midlands today and that those who are homeless or badly housed will be among those most at risk.
'It has been marvellous then to see this project coming together again this year with so much goodwill from church and community.'
Hope 4 was set up in Rugby in 2004 to create a drop-in centre that would provide food, practical support, laundry facilities and shower facilities for its guests. The Hope Centre opened in 2010 and has an average of 350 guests each month.