Norwich churches in plan to help rough sleepers

RoughSleepers430Norwich churches have responded to a plea to assist homeless rough sleepers in the city who have nowhere to go during severe winter weather, by putting plans in place for a winter café at Kings Community Centre, and are now appealing for volunteers to staff it. Keith Morris reports.

Ermir Prendi, Single Homeless and Rough Sleeper Coordinator, Norwich City Council, made the plea to an executive meeting of the churches together organization, Transforming Norwich. He explained that during severe weather, defined as when the night-time temperature is predicted to fall below freezing for three nights in succession, the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated to provide accommodation for homeless people so that they do not have to sleep on the streets.
Overnight accommodation is provided by Norwich City Council through partner agencies such as St Martin’s Housing Trust, YMCA Norfolk, House of Genesis and Stonham but there is a gap from around 4-7pm on weekend evenings when nowhere is available for the homeless to go.
Ermir asked Norwich churches if they could help provide a venue for people to be directed to during such severe weather and also during other winter weekends from the end of November to the end of March.
Church leaders responded to the plea and have now put together plans for a weekend winter café at Kings Community Church, King Street on Saturdays and Sundays, 4-7pm, from November 30 to March 30, 2014.
Mark Fairweather Tall, chairman of Transforming Norwich and minister at Norwich Central Baptist Church, said: “We want to help provide somewhere welcoming for rough sleepers and other vulnerable people where there are warm drinks, newspapers and board games in a safe and friendly environment.
“We hope it will have a truly positive impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in and around Norwich. We aim to ensure that we work alongside and co-ordinate with other homeless services to ensure maximum effectiveness.”
The café will be run by trained volunteers from local churches, overseen by experienced team leaders, co-ordinated by a steering group from Norwich City Council, three local churches and supported by Transforming Norwich.
Training will be provided, starting with a Sunday afternoon session, shadowing, at the established King’s Care sessions from 1-5pm during November.
Mark said: “We are looking for volunteers who can commit to a number of specific dates, are willing to deal with sometimes challenging people, are members of a church congregation in Norfolk, over 18 years old and nominated and supported by a church leader.”
Ermir said: "The response from the churches is indeed positive and the best aspect of it is the agreement to pool resources and  work together to meet the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in the city."
An application form (below), needs to be filled in and returned to Gill Duffy either by post at Norwich Central Baptist Church, Duke Street, NR3 3AP or by email on
For the first tranche of recruitment, these must be returned by Friday November 8.

Click here to download more information and an application form.


Published: 31/10/2013