As King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter prepares to close its doors for the season on Monday, its staff have thanked the community for its amazing support.
Based at St Ann’s Fort, the “lifesaving” shelter has provided a warm welcome, hot meal and a bed for the night to 94 people – many of them employed – since it opened in November.
The youngest guest arrived on his 18th birthday and the oldest were in their 70s.
Night shelter co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick has paid tribute to the kindness of the community which has supported the charity.
She said: “The support of people in King’s Lynn has been amazing. The interest that has been shown and the warmth and good feeling from people has been wonderful.
“It feels like everyone is behind what we are trying to do.”
The shelter will close on Monday morning and re-open in November for another winter season.
For some guests this will mean returning to life on the streets, while others have secured accommodation.
Miss McKitterick said: “It has been a lifesaver for our guests. It has got them out of the cold and given people a sense of hope and belonging.”
Staff and volunteers are proud the night shelter has a very homely feel and is spotlessly clean.
There is an open plan kitchen and dining area, showers, a laundry room and bedrooms where camp beds are made up with fresh linen each day.
When guests arrive they are given a hot meal cooked by one of the shelter’s volunteers and can then settle down for the evening, playing games, relaxing and chatting with staff and other guests.
Staff are always on hand for anyone who wants a chat or a cup of tea during the night and, in the morning, a cooked breakfast is served before the guests leave the building for the day.
A number of guests have jobs and staff have ensured they were awake on time and sent them off with a home-made packed lunch.
It has been these touches which added to the feeling of the guests being treated as part of a family.
The night shelter’s guests have been predominantly male, although women have also used the facility.
Night staff member Darren Whiley said: “A defining moment for me was when one guest – one of the nicest guys you could meet – shook my hand and said: “Thank you. If it wasn’t for what you do here I wouldn’t be here right now.”. That’s why we do it. It has been very fulfilling.”
As she begins the mammoth task of raising the £90,000 needed to run the shelter next winter, Miss McKitterick said: “Thank you to everyone who has been following our story.
Without the community’s support we couldn’t have done it.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the night shelter can email email@example.com or donate online at https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/kingslynnwinternightshelter