King’s Lynn shelter follows up former homeless
King’s Lynn Night Shelter has been offering support to individuals in temporary single-room accommodation, following action from the Government to ensure that no-one should be sleeping on the streets during the current pandemic.
The Government has funded local councils to enable them to provide accommodation for street sleepers while the pandemic is continuing, and while the public is largely in lockdown.
The night shelter is waiting for further news on when these arrangements will end, which may or may not affect its own work in the autumn.
Lucy McKitterick, co-ordinator of the shelter said, "It has been wonderful to see King's Lynn and West Norfolk come together to support our homeless this winter and we are delighted to be able to support the council by offering the Night Shelter building for this extended service. The current crisis has made the reality of life on the streets a special concern and it is good to see that the homeless will be given this extra help in a time of great need. The running of the Winter Night Shelter has been made possible because people have given sacrificially of their time and resources. Their kindness is a powerful sign of hope in difficult times ".
Fr Adrian Ling, Chair of Trustees, also paid tribute: “This year has been especially challenging, with damage to the building caused by Storm Ciara, and the Covid-19 virus outbreak. The co-ordinator, staff and volunteers have done great work to ensure the delivery of this vital service. We are very pleased that the borough housing department has been vigorous and pro-active in addressing the problems of homelessness, and moved swiftly to provide ongoing provision.”
Cllr Adrian Lawrence, cabinet member for housing, said: “Once again the work of the Churches Together group has been invaluable at looking after some of the most vulnerable in society through the winter months.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has led to a handover of the building to the borough council. Our housing team will continue to run the service for existing users only until suitable accommodation has been found.
“If you are homeless, or at risk of being homeless, and need assistance please phone us on 01553 616200. Out of hours you should call 01553 616601. To help control the spread of Coronavirus and to keep our staff safe, we're no longer accepting visits from the public to council offices.”
People can also contact the borough council through the live chat option online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, the night shelter has submitted a planning application to relocate this summer to the former vicarage next to St John's Church on Blackfriars Road. If all goes as hoped it will have a new home with sitting and dining rooms, three showers, and space for around 20% more guests in due course, subject to any possible restrictions in the wake of Covid-19. There is also a large garden which will be suitable for fundraising events, possibly as a community garden project.
Jonathan Meyrick, the Bishop of Lynn and a co-patron of the night shelter, writes: “Currently we tend to wish that others will ‘keep safe’ as we end letters or emails. I find it very heartening that, in a number of very telling comments from this last winter’s guests, there is an affirmation of how ‘safe’ one of our 104 guests felt with us.
“The fact that both the total number of guests, and the number of nights on which we were full, had increased on the year before says a very great deal about the value of what we do, thanks entirely to the dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and the wide variety of people and organisations who support this vital work.
“I have no doubt but that the King of Heaven and the Son of Man (Matthew 25:31-40) will be smiling in gratitude and approval.”
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Pictured above is King’s Lynn Night Shelter