On Tuesday 25th August, the Mayor of Winchester, Councillor Patrick Cunningham and Mrs Joy Cunningham visited Winchester Churches Nightshelter to check on how residents, staff and volunteers are coping during the pandemic.

After being welcomed by the Chief Executive of the Nightshelter, Michèle Price, the guests made their way to the kitchen where they served the evening meal to the residents alongside one of the Nightshelter’s regular volunteers.

The Mayor explained why he was so keen to visit: “I wanted to come and help today to show support to the staff and volunteers who have done so much for the residents here not only during Covid-19 but ongoing. I want to champion the champions and make sure staff know how much Winchester City Council appreciates what they do.

“It has been great to chat to everyone and to understand background stories and hear how people’s lives are improving all the time they are here. I am delighted to discover how many residents have now got jobs which is in part thanks to staff facilitating it.”

Each year, the Nightshelter serves over 12,000 meals to residents. The majority of meals are cooked and served by volunteers with lots of meals featuring donated food from the local community. The Mayor served spaghetti Bolognese followed by banana cake whilst chatting to residents about their experiences and plans for the future.

Michèle Price commented on the visit: “Just like the rest of the country, the Nightshelter has been in lockdown with many of our residents’ lives put on hold. We quickly adapted during lockdown so that we are now open 24/7 giving our residents a place to stay safe day and night, we want to try and keep these extended opening hours for as long as we can.  We are pleased to now have 80% of our residents in work and it was fantastic to hear many of them sharing their positive stories with the Mayor during his visit. Lives really can be transformed at the Nightshelter.”

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