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Local Charity Calls for Volunteers to Help Homeless Face Worst Winter Crisis for Years

Lois Sparling and Penny Matua from Manna House prepare mattresses, bedding and hand towels ahead of the 2017 Winter Shelter project.

[K]endal-based charity, Manna House is calling for 30 new volunteers to join its existing base of 60 as it once again sets up a Winter Shelter for homeless and vulnerably housed people in the South Lakes.

The Winter Shelter was established three years ago and follows a model that is now used across the country. Churches offer their premises overnight and the volunteer team takes it in turns to provide an evening meal, a safe place to sleep, and a good breakfast to those who would otherwise have to spend the night on the street during the coldest months of the year.

Potential volunteers are asked to join the team of experienced volunteers to help with various tasks one night per week between December 1st 2017 and February 28th 2018. Those tasks include making, serving and sharing an evening meal with up to 6 or 7 homeless people, making up beds, playing board games or chatting until lights out, serving breakfast and packing away before the shelter closes at 9am in the morning. Two volunteers also stay over each night, but this is not a requirement of every volunteer.

Winter Shelter Co-Ordinator, Lois Sparling said: “We all read the headlines about homelessness being on the rise but often feel powerless to help. This project is an incredible way to directly help people with truly hard lives in our own community. And the shelter really does make a positive difference – last year many of the guests who used the shelter moved on to more permanent housing and even into work.”

Anyone interested in joining the team is asked to complete the volunteer application form on the Manna House website. All volunteers receive training (2 hours early evening on 11 November or 15 November this year – but other dates will be arranged if necessary) and many come back year after year.

Lois concludes: “The Manna House team works hard all year round, providing housing, benefits, money and employment advice – we saw nearly 200 people who needed help in the second quarter of 2017. But winter is a time when even more direct and practical support is needed so we hope new volunteers can help us provide exactly that. Just a few volunteer hours each week could make an incredible difference to our clients.”

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