Volunteering in Northampton Emergency Night Shelter

On Thursday 17 January I completed my first shift at the temporary Winter Shelter in Northampton.

Northampton Borough Council decide when SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) should operate. This will be when overnight temperatures fall below freezing and the Met Office forecasts that temperatures will be below freezing for at least 3 nights.

I worked between the hours of 8.30pm to 11.30pm. We accommodated 22 homeless individuals. After registration/assessment, the individuals left their bags and topcoats at reception and pockets were turned out for any offensive items. After collecting their sleeping bag, pillow and roll mat they were shown the room where they would be provided with a hot meal, drinks and an area to sleep.

The doors open at 9pm and close at 11pm, with lights out at 11.30pm. The individuals have to vacate the room by 7am the following morning.

Most people arrive between 9 to 9.45pm, some bedding down immediately they arrive. Once the initial admission process has been completed time can be spent chatting to the individuals gathering information which can be passed to the day teams to help them off the streets.

I had never stopped to think about, what to me seemed a bizarre request for donations of socks/boxers. Having now had first-hand experience - these individuals may be having their first shower in weeks and they just want to put fresh clothing next to their skin.

I arrived home feeling exhausted but unable to sleep. I reflected on the individuals I had met throughout the evening and the positive experiences I had. I was advised that it was likely that not many people would engage in conversation on the first evening but over the following evenings as their sleep deprivation disappeared and they had the protection of a warm and safe environment they would begin to chat more freely.

It is now Sunday and I have completed a further 2 shifts. Yes, the experience has been challenging at times, but it has been incredibly rewarding. I look forward to leaving for my shift this evening and any future ones which arise.

Should anyone be interested in making a donation of socks/boxers..

The link for the Emergency Shelter is http://www.northampton.gov.uk/swep

They are always keen to receive volunteers.

JM

Posted: Sat, 02 Feb 2019 16:50 by Web Team

Tags: NCC, News