Christian-led Night Shelter seeks new Thetford venue
As its initial phase comes to an end, the Thetford Evening and Night Shelter led by three Christians from the town, will be missed having provided a place of community, fun and friendship over the festive period, leading to plans to open a permanent initiative if a venue can be found.
Based at the Salvation Army Hall the Thetford Evening and Night Shelter has been serving evening meals every night since Monday, December 17 and bed and breakfast since Sunday, December 23.
This morning (Thursday, January 3) the Evening and Night Shelter is due to serve its last breakfast at the Salvation Army Hall and shut its doors until a more permanent venue can be found.
The shelter is a new project for 2018-19 initiated and coordinated by Andrea Jarrold from Hope Church Thetford and fellow Christians Nadine Forde and Diane Dickson. The Thetford community have rallied behind them, with a team of around 40 volunteers offering their time over the festive period and many more donating items from sleeping bags to games.
In an emotional Facebook post on Tuesday Andrea wrote: “I’m in tears - the thought that in two mornings time we have to close the doors and not open them that evening and welcome these beautiful souls in...until we get a permanent place, or maybe just even a weekend property we can use as a Night shelter. Some of our guests will go back to sleeping rough.”
Strong relationships have been formed between the team of volunteers and those using the Night Shelter. On Monday night volunteers and guests including Rev Helen Jary of Thetford's Team Ministry stayed up together playing games and enjoying a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Andrea said: “So much laughter and fun and food! We had a lovely dinner, chilli provided by one of our volunteers, thanks Lisa! Then we played lots of hilarious party games, sung songs, had a buffet and saw in the New Year together, followed by another nearly couple of hours of dancing and laughing and happiness!
“Everyone had such a great time, and were so appreciative and our lovely Polish guests were so kind and went into clear up mode at the end and tidied up all the streamers and put all the tables back together. Many of us volunteers agreed that is was definitely the best New Year’s Eve celebration of our lives. It was such a privilege to be a part of this.”
The Thetford Evening and Night Shelter now has a management team in place to move the project forward but a permanent or weekend venue is required for future use. The team would welcome any help or suggestions for a suitable building. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Taken by Andrea Jarrold at the New Year's Eve party held at the Thetford Evening and Night Shelter