One of our most important projects at St Luke’s is our involvement in the Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter (overseen by CARIS Islington). Every year, from January to March (the three coldest months of the year), we join up with six other local churches, each taking one night a week, to offer 15 homeless people a hot meal, a bed for the night, and a hearty breakfast. This year’s project was another great success. Dan Northam Jones, who manages and co-ordinates Night Shelter for St Luke’s, explains: ‘Around 70 volunteers from St Luke’s, Vox Holloway and the local community staffed 14 nights, providing hospitality and warmth to our guests. Due to the cold weather, the shelter was extended by an extra week. Our guests included Australians, South Africans, Moroccans, Zimbabweans, Bulgarians, Czechs, Irish, Scousers and Islington born-and-breds. Many guests who went on to find accommodation continued to join us for food and company, and some stayed for Sunday morning services and church lunches.’
As well as food, a bed and a warm welcome, Night Shelter aims to provide some entertainment for guests. This year’s activities included boxing coaching by Sam Hadfield, the founder of CARIS Boxing Club; and an evening of dance with Jason Rowe’s ‘Waves’ group – both of which were enjoyed by guests and volunteers. The final evening operated alongside our monthly choral evensong, and guests enjoyed the choir’s music and quiet service.
‘A huge thank you to all those who contributed this year,’ says Dan, ‘whether by volunteering for shifts, bringing food, donating money, washing linen, or chatting to guests. And thank you to the whole community of St Luke’s for helping to save Night Shelter. Last August, it looked like it might not be able to run this year, as CARIS was experiencing funding challenges. Thanks to donations from St Luke’s and other churches, enough funds were raised to allow the shelter to continue. If you’d like to fundraise or donate to this vital work, please let me know.’
Most of all, we’d like to thank Dan for his tireless work in organising our part in the project. It’s an enormous job to undertake on a voluntary basis, and Dan tackled it once again with tireless enthusiasm and energy. We couldn’t do it without you, Dan!