Staff, residents and supporters gathered on Sunday 10th October to mark World Homeless Day and to launch our new working name – The Winchester Beacon.
“When we were founded over 30 years ago by Churches Together, we were very much a traditional winter Nightshelter” explained Michèle Price, Chief Executive. “Over the years, we have evolved and grown our service to ensure that we meet the needs of our residents.”
Changes accelerated during the pandemic when the charity adapted to become a 24-hour service so that residents could stay on site all day and night when other services had to close their doors. Bedrooms have been changed to single rooms to reduce shared air space. Both of these changes have had such a positive impact on residents that they have been made permanent.
“The pandemic gave us an opportunity to do things differently” explained Michèle Price. “Being open all day has given our residents more stability and the opportunity to access more of our personalised support. Single rooms have given our residents the privacy and dignity that they so need during challenging times”.
With these alterations, the name ‘Nightshelter’ no longer accurately describes the charity’s services. Another big reason for the change has been feedback from residents highlighting that the name ‘Nightshelter’ can conjure up worrying images and has been a barrier to some people seeking help from the charity. There is also stigma and shame attached to the term ‘Nightshelter’ for some residents.
“We have spent many months consulting with residents, staff and supporters to find a new name which better reflects the far-reaching service that we provide” explains Michèle. “The Winchester Beacon was chosen as we know that we bring hope and the opportunity to escape homelessness. Our beacon shines so brightly thanks to our wonderful community of supporters and staff working passionately behind the scenes.”
On World Homeless Day, supporters, residents and staff gathered to take a moment to think of all those faced with homelessness. Candles were lit up the steps to the door of The Winchester Beacon to symbolise the path that the charity offers out of homelessness and highlight the beacon of hope that it is in so many lives.