Winter Shelter

Since 2002 St Mary at Finchley has been working with other churches and Homeless Action in Barnet (HAB) to provide a winter night shelter for the street homeless of the borough. Next year the initiative will expand to include other faith groups. This is a completely voluntary activity with approximately 50 volunteers involved from St Marys ;this is replicated in the other venues. We offer hospitality, food and shelter for the night during the coldest months of the year. It provides a vital life line at a critical point in people’s lives and is an important part of our mission- it is faith in action. We are supported in this venture by Housing Justice, a Christian charity who work and campaign for justice for all in housing.

HAB refer guests to us from their day provision for homeless people and they work with them during their homelessness to settle them back into the community. In the last winter season 54 guests were supported by the night shelter – 32 of whom were assisted back into homes of their own. Another agency who contribute are the Barnet Furniture Centre. They recycle furniture, free of charge to those who donate, and for a very modest fee for those needing furniture. They can be contacted on 0208 361 6802 .

One of our recent guests wrote the following poem about his experience – this touched us all and really bought home the value of the night shelter

The Night Winter Shelter

They walk along the lonely street
Every now and then stop to rest their feet
Hair all matted and fingernails black
And carrying their life upon their back
That shop doorway looks good or that sheltered bench
To get out of the rain before they get drenched
God love them, these people have nowhere to go
Hoping for help but no-one wants to know
Poor rejects of life’s rich tapestry
Walk through life without hope, wearily
What is the purpose, where will it end
No home, no job, no family or friend
Some of them beg for hot food and tea
Others will beg for beer or whiskey
A few of them won’t ‘cos they have too much pride
And suffer in silence by the roadside
They were in a dark tunnel, at the end was a light
It wasn’t easy to see ‘cos it wasn’t that bright
But as they drew nearer the light became clearer
The illumination was a place to stay for the night
Greeted with a smile and a hot cup of tea
Friendly people said, “Come with me”
And led them to a place that they could rest
Just like a bird keeping young warm in a nest
Even though it seemed strange it was plain to see
This was a place filled with harmony
Generous, caring, considerate and kind
A place they could leave their horrid day behind
And when they finally rest their head
A chance of comfort on an unconcrete bed
Given time to reflect on the next coming day
Secure in the knowledge they’ll have somewhere to stay
So thank you, Night Shelter, for the service you run
Helping the homeless, all the good you have done
Your pure human kindness is a joy to behold
For taking less fortunates in from the cold
Some of them beg for hot food and tea
Others will beg for beer or whiskey
A few of them won’t ‘cos they have too much pride
And suffer in silence by the roadside
They were in a dark tunnel, at the end was a light
It wasn’t easy to see ‘cos it wasn’t that bright
But as they drew nearer the light became clearer
The illumination was a place to stay for the night
Greeted with a smile and a hot cup of tea
Friendly people said, “Come with me”
And led them to a place that they could rest
Just like a bird keeping young warm in a nest
Even though it seemed strange it was plain to see
This was a place filled with harmony
Generous, caring, considerate and kind
A place they could leave their horrid day behind
And when they finally rest their head
A chance of comfort on an unconcrete bed
Given time to reflect on the next coming day
Secure in the knowledge they’ll have somewhere to stay
So thank you, Night Shelter, for the service you run
Helping the homeless, all the good you have done
Your pure human kindness is a joy to behold
For taking less fortunates in from the cold