St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam
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St Andrew’s • Cheam

The Sutton Night Shelter project

About the project

There has been an increase in roughsleeping in the borough of Sutton, across London and nationally over the few years. Sutton Community Works [SCW] have been exploring how to respond to roughsleeping with local partners [we are part of the borough rough sleepers forum run by the council] and with Housing Justice who have supported the set up of winter shelters across London Boroughs.

Recently in a meeting of church leaders we agreed we would pilot a winter shelter for 4 weeks in Feb/March. 4 churches have offered venues for the project which means it can operate every night of the week for the period of the pilot. We also applied for funding to the Greater London Authority for two temporary staff posts to oversee and run the project. We have been successful in receiving this funding.

The aim of the pilot is:

  1. To assess the ongoing need for a winter shelter
  2. To assist those who are rough sleeping and need an intervention like this to move them forward. There are stories from other shelters where a guest has been at wits end [thinking suicide] and having a place at the shelter has turned their life around!
  3. To get lay the foundations through the learning curve of a pilot for a longer version next Winter

The Winter Shelter

  • Will operate every day of the week. 4 nights will be at one venue and the other 3 nights at 2 different venues [the main venue will be River Church on fri-Mon night inclusive] -the other venues will be in Wallington and one possibly in North Cheam
  • Volunteers will set up at each venue from 6pm and prepare food and a welcoming environment for guests
  • Guests will arrive at 7.30pm and the centre will not accept any guests after 8pm unless by prior agreement
  • Guests will be risk assessed and referred by the Local Council and Spear in conjunction with the Shelter Coordinator – we will have a limit of 10 spaces for guests
  • Volunteers will be on shift from 6-10.30pm and be expected to participate fully in chatting to guests and serving guests
  • The shift from 10-5am is manned by 2-3 volunteers who will be there to respond to any needs of guests eg refreshments. They will also be responsible for maintaining a safe environment. It is anticipated that the night shift volunteers could take turns in sleeping for short times
  • The morning shift is from 5-8am. The team is to prepare breakfast and ensure the venue is left in a clean and tidy condition. The volunteers will interact with the guests and send them off with a packed lunch each day
  • Each shift will have a designated volunteer who is team leader
  • Each centre will have oversight from the paid staff and every night there will be an on call number for any emergency issues
  • All shifts will be on a rota basis
    6-10.30pm setting up/cooking and serving food/interacting with guests [4-6 volunteers]
    10.30-5.30am manning the shelter overnight [2-3 volunteers with one sleeping as appropriate]
    5.30 -8.30am setting up/preparing and serving breakfasts/making packed lunches/interacting with guests/setting down [4 volunteers]
  • Given we need approx. 10 volunteers each night this means we need a pool of 70 volunteers assuming everyone does one shift a week – it would be great if you could do a minimum of one shift a week during the pilot.


We will also need to transport the mattresses and sleeping bags from venue to venue so will require volunteers specifically for transport. This will be done at some stage during the day when we change venues by agreement with next church venue. There will also be need to transport some food from the foodbank for use at meal times.


It is hoped that a meal can be cooked on site at the various premises. This would be part of the volunteers role at the venues. However, it may be that some food needs to be cooked off site and transported to the venues. If you have experience in this then please do contact us. Whilst it would be good to have all the answers to the many questions we may have the purpose of the training by Housing Justice is to answer as many of these as possible. They have a tried and tested model that is working in other London boroughs.


Request for volunteers at SCW night shelter

suttonshelter^|Click here to email us if you can help Request for volunteers at SCW night shelter

suttonshelter^|Click here to email us if you can help

Paid jobs

Project coordinator post

Job description

suttonshelter^|Click here to email us if you are interested Project assistant post

Job description

suttonshelter^|Click here to email us if you are interested