C4WS is a church based ‘rolling shelter’ that provides emergency accommodation to street homeless, those at immediate risk of rough sleeping locally and ‘hidden homeless’. The project runs from November to March every year and has a capacity of 16 beds.
C4WS is a collection of different congregations from various denominations with the same heart. To reach out to the homeless of Camden and provide warmth, food, security and hope. We have a set venue for each night of the week which is manned by 20-30 volunteers per night. Through the partnerships of local churches the project has a unique ability to meet the practical needs of homeless individuals in Camden and the surrounding area without discrimination or favour.
Admittance to C4WS is by referral only. Guests can stay for up to 28 days with the objective of being resettled into more permanent accommodation by the C4WS Welfare Coordinator in partnership with local agencies.
A Guest Story – One year on
My name is Jermaine, I’m thirty two and have resided in London since 2006.
I had been rough sleeping during 2007-2008 due to me being released from a prison sentence with no accommodation and no support, as I was not under a prison licence. I had in 2006 been briefly attending SOAS university and so had limited funds left over from this period, but when the money ran out I began to run out of options and started to rough sleep.
Fortunately for me I had been pointed towards the homeless persons unit in Kings Cross and had been appointed a key worker who got in contact with the staff from C4WS, who fortuitously had a place on their cold weather scheme become available.
I still remember in great detail my first night there. I initially felt a mixture of relief that I had a nice, warm and safe environment in which to eat and sleep and after my induction and introduction onto the scheme I also began to have a sense that I might be able to develop long term goals, as I was informed that sticking to the scheme could mean that I got myself into long term accommodation.
There were a mixed bunch of guys with me at the time, all of us with varying needs and past histories, but the thing that drew us all together was a sense of community that we were all going through the same thing. I used to think of myself as quite a proud person, and before I attended the night shelter I was the type of person that would have become easily embarrassed that I was having to depend on people for such basic needs, but, and I mean this is a big but, the genuine warmth with which we were all welcomed and the interest that was shown in us individually by the volunteers soon dispelled this.
After spending some weeks with the guys at the various churches and towards the end of the time that C4WS was to be available, I was, true to their promise, found accommodation in a hostel in east London. In essence it was only a room but to have my own space and sense of ownership over it was a great motivator to not only maintain it, but change the way I had been living up until this point.
I can’t say that it was easy as I had up until that point been in and out of prison quite a bit and so had to learn how to manage my life better, but as I am typing this fourteen months later, I am able to say that I have not been back to prison, I have moved on to a studio flat in Finsbury park, and very soon I could have the opportunity to do voluntary work for the British Red Cross with an eye to going back to university in the future. Through the help and support of C4WS and other agencies such as Two-Step who they work closely with, I have been able to begin to ‘overhaul’ my life and for the first time attach meaning to the direction I am going.
The great thing is that that support from C4WS has been ongoing and did not stop like it had done with prison, as soon as I had left them. Whenever I have needed information, advice or even something as mundane as a chat, I am always welcome. If this has been the case for me then I know there must have been many others that have drawn the same positives as I have.
How you can help
There are a few ways that you can support the running of the shelter here at St Mary’s. We run our Shelter once a week during November and December.
All the funding in the world is great, but this organisation cannot run without the dedication of the volunteers. Just ask any of our volunteers from last year about their experience and they will sell it better than I could. If you are interested in taking part this year contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be organising a meet and some training, soon for old and new volunteers. Get in touch if you want to be in the loop.
You can download the Volunteer Information pack from the link in the top right of this page.
Alas, though food does grow on some tree’s, the money to buy it each week to feed our guests, does not. Donations need to be raised each year, by each church involved, for the weekly running costs of the shelter. This is funds for food, toiletries, laundry and utilities. It is up to each church to fundraise for their own shelter period.
There are a few ways you can help the shelter run this year…
‘Sponsor a guest’
£15.00 – Will pay for Dinner, Breakfast, toiletries, Laundry (cleaning the bed linen) and utilities for one guest for one week
£140 – Will pay for one guest over the total 7 weeks
Last year we had great donations of winter clothing for our guests. The Coats, jumpers, Scarf’s, and hats were received well by our guests, especially on the crisp, snowy mornings as they had to venture back out onto the streets.
Packets of socks, vests and thermals are also greatly received
Any donations can be sent to the St Mary’s Office. Cheques can be made payable to St Mary’s PCC, with Cold Weather Shelter marked on the back.
For more information visit the C4WS website at www.c4wshomelessproject.org
Celyn Cooke, St Mary’s Shelter Coordinator