Preparing to open your church as a Night Shelter

As the winter nights draw in, Night Shelters offer a practical way to help the local community.
Church and community-based shelters welcomed nearly 2,000 people across England and Wales in 2015, to provide an evening meal, a safe bed and breakfast for homeless community members.
Running between November and March, the project sees church buildings open their doors to help the homeless off the streets over the winter period. If you’re thinking of getting involved, here is how to prepare your church:

Think about access

Your premises will need to provide ease of access, toilet facilities, and plenty of space to accommodate beds and people. Plan out how much space you would need and which facilities, and work out the
practicalities before committing.

Speak to other churches in your community

Organisations often team up to provide Night Shelter services without the pressure to open every single night. Consider joining forces with other churches, community centres and places of worship. Take it in turns to open with a rota system, share volunteers and pool resources to keep costs down.

Talk to Edwards

Activities such as cooking on the premises and having members of the public stay overnight may affect your insurance, such as your Public Liability cover. Your insurer will want to know who is running the Night Shelter – your church, churches together or a third party.

If you are running the event yourself, you will need to answer questions including:

  • Are the “guests” vetted by an agency? Are checks in place for alcohol/drugs/violence?
  • Will the area of the church used be restricted?
  • What is the ratio of supervisors to guests? Do your supervisors have experience?
  • Have you carried out a risk assessment?
  • Will you be providing food?
  • Will male/female privacy requirements be considered?
  • Have local police been notified?

Let us know your plans before you open, and we will ask all the relevant questions to make sure that your cover is up to date.