Night Shelter History
Hendon Reform Synagogue used to operate a night shelter under the auspices of Together in Barnet. When HRS joined with EDRS to form EHRS, we saw the opportunity for our new community to continue the good work started by HRS. We offered this rewarding volunteering opportunity to our membership and people signed up in droves.
Starting in February 2019 EHRS opened our doors for the first time as a night shelter. During the 10 Wednesdays of the night shelter at EHRS we gave out 132 evening meals, 132 safe and warm beds for the night and 132 breakfasts to help people on their way. Our guests particularly liked the moveable partitions we have at EHRS which they used to create their own space. We helped our guests build supportive relationships with each other and with the wider world and brought structure back into their lives.
We engaged with 67 different volunteers to help us operate the night shelter, most of whom are from within the EHRS community but some people were friends of members. Other volunteers had no direct connection with us but found out we were running a shelter on the internet and approached us to help out.
In addition to the individuals who volunteered, the following local organisations joined us:-
- EHRS nursery Nagila baked hamentaschen
- EHRS brownies baked jam tarts
- Rotary donated groceries
- Give Together partnered with Immanuel College and Belmont School to donate food and with Highgate School who gave backpacks crammed with useful things to our guests
- Cartons of Stanmore collected toiletries from their customers and donated individual packs of biscuits for our guests to take away
We held a celebration for our volunteers after we completed our first cycle of running the night shelter. We were joined by James Chagula the night shelter co-ordinator from Together in Barnet (TiB) and TiB trustee Sarah Rosen-Webb as well as our new Rabbi Mark Goldsmith who volunteered for the night shelter in his previous community at Alyth.
Night Shelter 2020
This year the night shelter planned to run all year round for the first time. EHRS signed up to operate the night shelter on Monday nights starting in March for 12 weeks. After 2 weeks of operating the night shelter at EHRS, when coronavirus hit the UK, it became too dangerous to operate a one room dormitory style shelter. The trustees of Together in Barnet and their new Operations Manager, Amanda Weiss, went into overdrive and found a new venue to house our shelter guests for a week while a longer -term solution was found.
Homeless Action in Barnet (HAB) and TiB worked with Barnet Council to urgently find temporary accommodation for all the homeless people in Barnet. Some were housed in a hotel, some in student accommodation and many in private rented accommodation. HAB & TiB are now supporting 130 formerly homeless people in temporary accommodation across the London boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Brent, Haringey, Hackney, Islington and Camden.
HAB is operating as a food distribution point, receiving cooked meals from Compassion London and donations from City Harvest among others.
Amanda of TiB is co-ordinating 94 volunteer drivers who collect food parcels from HAB and distribute to the 100 clients that HAB & TiB are supporting.
We still need more volunteer drivers to collect food parcels from HAB at 36b Woodhouse Road, Finchley N12 0RG on Thursday at 14:30 and deliver to up to 12 addresses. Volunteers drive in pairs to each address to ensure no lone working and safety information is provided. Social distancing is in place at HAB where you can also pick up disposable gloves and refill your hand-sanitizer bottle.
HAB need the following donations to help people set up in their new accommodation:-
- second hand mobile phones and chargers,
- good quality pots and pans
- can openers
HAB need regular donations of the following items to go in their weekly food parcels:-
- Small washing up liquid
- Toilet Rolls
- UHT Milk
- Tinned meat
- Small jars of coffee
- Sugar small 500g packets
- Pot/packet flavoured noodles
- Stir in sauces
- Treats of chocolate, sweets & biscuits
- Tinned soup
- Tinned fish
- Tinned sweetcorn, carrots, potatoes or peas – (not chickpeas or butter beans thank you)
- Stock cubes
- Individual cooking oils
- Sachets of salt and pepper
- Long life puddings e.g. Tinned fruit or rice pudding
Donations can be dropped off at Homeless Action in Barnet, 36b Woodhouse Road, N12 0RG at any time between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. Although it is best to avoid 2pm – 3pm on Mondays and Thursdays when volunteer drivers are collecting their food parcels.
If you want to drop off your donation in Mill Hill please email email@example.com to arrange drop off at Lisa or Audrey’s house.
Next Steps as at July 2020
There are currently over 150 people in emergency Covid Temporary Accommodation that are Barnet Council’s responsibility.
– Barnet Council are conducting needs assessments with each client to see what suitable accommodation they can be moved on into.
– Currently, they think there are around 16 people who would fall into the NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) group who will get no more assistance from the Local Authority once the central government funding runs out and who therefore are at risk of returning to the streets. These are non-EEA migrants, refused asylum seekers and those with ongoing immigration applications. They are anticipating this will be around September.
– New people present every week to make homelessness applications although this has gone down in recent weeks.
– Barnet has the 4th highest number of furloughed people in London (48,500 people) which will have a knock-on effect for homelessness once people are made redundant and evictions are allowed again.
Questions for Night Shelters:
- How do you keep your organisation’s vision and values intact in the current climate?
- How do you do “Hospitality at a distance”?
- How do you “welcome with a mask?”
With regards to the above we are looking for support from all of our communities to tackle the situation we find ourselves in. There will more than likely be people back on the streets of Barnet come the Autumn/Winter and we are unable to open the doors of the Night Shelter.
Therefore, HAB & TiB are asking:
- For the clergy and members of our affiliated communities to reach out to local their politicians – MPs, local counsellors, and those in positions of power to help us find a solution to this problem. No one wants to see people return to the streets in a few months. As well as being a tragedy for the individuals concerned, this also poses a serious public health risk to us all.
- For the community to help us explore creative ideas that will keep people off of the streets in lieu of a night shelter. We have been advised by Housing Justice, following advice given to them from Public Health England, that the safest options are:-
- Finding properties that guests can be accommodated in which will enable us to keep them safe – as households in line with the guidance from Public Health England e.g. shared flats or houses.
- Finding a building with multiple rooms with en-suite facilities, or no more than 2 people to share a bathroom, that we can accommodate as many people as possible in who are in need of somewhere safe to sleep e.g. former hotels, care homes or other buildings that can be modified in line with the parameters above.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and all ideas are welcome!
What we do know is that a ‘dormitory style’ rolling night shelter, with people sleeping in one large room, and sharing bathroom facilities, is not deemed as safe due to the shared communal airspace which greatly increases the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
TiB are looking for new trustees – particularly a secretary and someone who can take over from our treasurer who is stepping down after the current financial year.
If you would like to
- Volunteer as a driver on a Monday or Thursday afternoon
- Find out more about becoming a trustee
- Offer a housing solution for the 16 homeless people who have no recourse to public funds
Please contact Amanda by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to
- Drop off donations for HAB in Mill Hill
Please contact Lisa or Audrey by emailing us at email@example.com
Finally, we would like to Thank You for all your help supporting the Night Shelter at EHRS and the work that HAB and TiB are doing to help the homeless in Barnet.
Lisa Bard & Audrey Zarach
Night Shelter Co-ordinators at EHRS