For the last couple of years the Elim Connect Centre, Shepton Mallet Salvation Army and Mendip District Council have worked together to set up an Emergency Cold Weather Shelter based in Shepton Mallet. On the nights that are forecast to hit below freezing for three consecutive nights or more, the shelter will provide warmth and safety to rough sleepers from across Mendip with great success.
Men and women, old and young were referred by the police, the Citizens Advice Bereau, GPs, Mendip District Council and the Elim Connect Centre’s Street Level Access Programme which is currently engaging with all known rough sleepers across the district.
The reason this shelter was such an achievement was due to the dedicated volunteers that willingly gave up a few nights to sleep on a camp bed, meet new people and engage in what is a hidden and complex problem.
This year, we are appealing again for anyone who would like to help. Many of the local residents who have been involved in the past had a good time and the rough sleepers who use the service are very grateful for their help.
Jai Vick, Mendip District Council’s housing options team manager, said; “This is a wonderful example of partnership working which really benefits those in our district who need it most during the cold weather.
“I urge local residents to become involved and offer help anyway they can. You don’t necessarily need experience just be willing to make a cup of tea and have a chat. “The team is also looking for drivers who are willing to transport rough sleepers from the four other Mendip towns to the shelter.”
If anyone is interested in supporting the ‘Minus Zero’ programme, either as an overnight volunteer or as a driver to transport people to the shelter, please call the Elim Connect Centre on 01749 677 097. More information can be found at www.connect-centre.org.uk
There will be two information and training sessions for anyone interested in volunteering at the night shelter:
Wednesday 30th Oct 7pm at the Elim Connect Centre, Wells
Thursday 31st Oct 7pm at the Salvation Army Hall, Shepton Mallet
If you are interested, please just turn up on the night.