A night shelter for the homeless is calling for around 150 volunteers as it faces what could be its busiest winter yet.
King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter is set to re-open next month at its new premises, the old vicarage next to St John’s Church in Blackfriars Road.
The shelter will be open every night of the winter offering an evening meal, a safe place to sleep and a warm welcome to people with nowhere to stay.
Staff have been busy preparing the shelter for the season, which could see an increase in people seeking shelter as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Lucy McKitterick, co-ordinator for the shelter, run by Churches Together, said: “We are doing everything we can to have as many guests as we are allowed to.
“Job losses, mental health issues, domestic abuse and landlords being able to evict tenants – all of those things have been impacted by Covid.
“But we will have to see, as the last six months have taught us, we can’t assume what will happen next week.”
Miss McKitterick said although the new larger shelter could now accommodate more people, it was still just as important to be providing the right support.
“We are working closely with the borough council and other partner agencies. The shelter is for an immediate refuge, but the emphasis is helping people to find something more permanent,” she said.
Work has continued at the former vicarage this week, ready for when it re-opens on Thursday, October 29.
The 1870s building is much larger than the shelter’s former St Ann’s Fort premises, and has six bedrooms which are set to be partitioned to accommodate more people.
“I think it’s the first vicarage in Norfolk to become a night shelter,” said Miss McKitterick.
“At the moment, it has an enormous Victorian bathroom which is now being converted into three shower rooms.
“Although the guests would love the bathroom, there would be a bit of a queue.”
Due to the pandemic, Miss McKitterick said she was waiting on government guidance on how many people could be taken in to comply with covid-secure rules.
She said: “But as you have seen with schools, guidance can be quite last minute.”
The shelter ran as a pilot project on Friday and Saturday nights in the winter of 2017-18 and, following the success of this scheme, expanded to a seven nights a week, five month winter shelter.
The charity is currently seeking volunteers to help out at the shelter to work morning, evening, or overnight shifts.
There are a range roles including cooking breakfast or supper, cleaning and doing laundry.
Miss McKitterick said: “The shelter is staffed, volunteers are never left on their own and they don’t get involved in personal care. But it’s being a listening ear.
“It’s lovely working here. For me, it’s a great privilege, especially looking after all of our lovely guests. They are a great lot of people.”
Volunteers will be able to attend training evenings which are being held next month at St John’s Church in The Walks.
All sessions will start at 7pm. The dates are: Thursday 8, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 15.
Booking is essential and can be done online from today (Friday) at www.klwns.org.uk
Or to help support the night shelter to continue its work, make a donation at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/10347