Supporters, staff and residents from Winchester Churches Nightshelter gathered on Wednesday 13 November at St Peter’s Pastoral Centre for our AGM and Supporters’ Evening.
The event was opened by the Nightshelter’s Patron, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester. The Bishop spoke of his motivations for supporting the charity:
“It was a pleasure to be part of the Winchester Churches Nightshelter AGM and commend the work the dedicated staff and volunteer team do in lifting people out of homelessness. Listening to the experiences of former Nightshelter residents was an important reminder to me of the common fragility we all share. We all need compassion as we face the trials of life. To value all people as loved by God enables us to recognise our common humanity and to work together to support those who have broken lives. The Nightshelter is a practical expression of this.”
The evening focused on the theme of ‘Enabling Change’. Chief Executive, Michele Price, spoke of the many ways in which the charity gives each resident the opportunity to make a change.
Two former residents who are using their lived experience to work as peer mentors with current residents then spoke openly of their own journey. Anthony was just eleven when he was thrown out of home and begun, what would end up being many years, living on the streets. As he explained, it was his time at the Nightshelter that ended up being a pivotal moment:
“The Nightshelter provided me with everything I needed, the support and confidence to get clean which I have never been able to do before. I’ve been clean for two years and I am now a peer mentor, it is a job I really love, I do not have enough words to express how much this job means to me. I get to help people change.”
The event closed with Dr Nick Maguire from the University of Southampton who has carried out extensive research into the impact of psychology on excluded groups and is leading the peer mentoring programme. Dr Maguire spoke of the psychological frameworks which can help staff working at organisations such as the Nightshelter when engaging with residents.
The Nightshelter provides a safe and supportive place to stay for 17 residents every night of the year, to donate text NIGHTSHELTER to 70085 plus any amount up to £20.