Action Zones 

The Living Room project reflections

nick-lesterFrom January through to March local churches and support agencies united to open a night shelter for the homeless.  As ‘The Living Room’ closes until next year, volunteers Nick (left) and Lester (right) reflect on its impact.  Nick Symeou reports

The Living Room, based at the Minster Mission building on Admiralty Road, is a new project by Churches Together and local charities to help the homeless people in our town. This year it has been run as a pilot scheme on Saturday nights, during the cold winter months of January through to March

A typical Saturday night would consist of guests arriving at 7pm for a coffee and a chat. During the evening they would take part in organised activities such as board games, followed by a meal. Lights out is around 11pm.The guests sleep in the hall until breakfast time, departing at 8am
We have at least two different volunteers on each of the shifts; 6pm - midnight, midnight - 6am, and 6am - 8.30am
Lester and I have mainly been on duty for the night shift! It has been great to get to know and hear the stories of the guests. Numbers have been fairly small, with four being the most to attend on one night, but some have become regulars which allows for relationships and trust to develop
Funding was secured to allow us to hire a project coordinator on a temporary basis, and Anna has done a superb job of getting the project up and running

A review of the project is currently underway and plans are in place to register The Living Room as a charity ahead of it reopening in the autumn. We are hoping to run for two nights per week next winter but require more volunteers in order to do so, especially men. If you would like to be part of this worthwhile and rewarding project, please contact Anna Heydon:
or 07471 357 072
For Lester, volunteering has been a deeply rewarding and transformative experience. He said: “Seeing such people in difficult positions happy, even if it’s just for one night, makes you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile”
“These are just normal people going through difficult times, and it made me realise that once upon a time that could’ve been me”
“I’m so glad that God has led me to serve in this way. I would say to anyone who is interested to just come along and give it a go! We’ve had a lot of fun - with a poetry night, a film night, music nights - and just for a few hours it helps these people forget about how tough their lives are”