An emergency night shelter in Boston was spared closure one night last week, after the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner and a group of helpers came to the rescue.
The service, run by Churches Together in Boston at the Centenary Methodist Church, in Red Lion Street, provides emergency overnight accommodation for the homeless when temperatures hit freezing for three consecutive nights.
But, on Wednesday, despite it being cold enough, a lack of volunteers meant the shelter would have to remain closed that night.
That was, however, until Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones heard about the situation on local radio that morning and rounded up a posse of volunteers to help keep the doors of the shelter open.
They would go on to help provide a roof for the night, as well as food and drink, to 20 people (and one dog).
Mr Jones described the work done by the churches to help the homeless as ‘tremendous’.
“When I heard the shelter may not open on one of the coldest nights of the year I couldn’t stand by and do nothing,” he said.
“I’m really thankful that so many friends and colleagues came forward to ensure we could keep the shelter open, but there are many people who give their time regularly who deserve enormous credit. It was a humbling experience for all of us.
“The men and women who used the facilities were friendly, respectful, well behaved and grateful and I am so glad we were able to help them.”
He added: “Frankly it is both surprising and sad that the town of Boston does not have a permanent night shelter for rough sleepers. Clearly there is a need.”
The shelter, which has been running for seven years, is overseen by the Rev Neil Vickers – superintendent minister at the Centenary Methodist Church.
Mr Vickers thanked Mr Jones and all those who helped keep the shelter open on Wednesday. He said users described it as a ‘godsend’.
Twenty is the maximum number of people the shelter can take (no one had to be turned away on the night) and Mr Vickers said there appears to be a growing need for the service in the town.
He said: “Numbers are up on last year, certainly, a long way up.”
* Anyone who can support the shelter is asked to call the church office on 01205 355543 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Coun Martin Griggs, Boston Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, property and community, said: “Any rough sleeper can approach the council for housing advice, as homeless or to join the Boston Common Housing Register. Most rough sleepers are known to P3, who hold the countywide contract for dealing with rough sleeping and supporting rough sleepers and whom do an excellent job.
“Some rough sleepers do not want and do not accept any advice or assistance; those that do work with P3 particularly to resolve their housing issues.
“The Lincolnshire Social Impact Bond project has secured over £1m to work with entrenched rough sleepers throughout the county, including a number in Boston, and will offer intensive, ongoing support to those who want to engage to try and find sustainable housing solutions for them. The media can help by promoting that people come to us and engage at all levels so we can try and reduce rough sleeping in order to support people’s health and well-being.”