In 2010 the Kingdom Way Trust’s founder, David Barratt, volunteered for a programme providing meals for Eastbourne’s rough sleepers on Saturday evenings. One evening as he said “Goodnight” to guests as they left, it struck him that, for many of them, it wasn’t going to be a good night at all. He felt something needed to be done for the long-term prospects of these men and women. No-one in Eastbourne should be homeless, especially in the winter, he concluded.
David had recently become a Christian after an encounter with Jesus at the age of 59. He was challenged as he read his bible and in particular Jesus’ statement in the gospel of Matthew chapter 25:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”.
He began talking to people in Eastbourne’s church community. The idea that the town should offer a temporary night shelter scheme gathered support. Churches in the town centre were approached and within months seven had signed up to offer their halls – amazingly - each on a different night of the week. In 2011 the Winter Night Shelter was born, offering hot food and a friendly, safe place to stay overnight.
Since then, several churches, mostly from the town centre, have offered their halls. Over the years more than 700 volunteers from about 40 churches across Eastbourne have got involved in a variety of roles: including cooking, setting up beds, chatting to and listening to guests and staffing the halls overnight. They have staffed more than 2,000 shifts during 823 nights giving approximately 50,000 hours of their time.
Several businesses and charities in Eastbourne have supported the Winter Night Shelter too. These include:
Greggs - providing free cakes and bread
Simply Patisserie - providing fresh food
Iron Maidens – providing a free laundry service
WestWays Vending - providing tea, coffee and sugar supplies
Eastbourne Foodbank helping with other food supplies
We work closely with Eastbourne Borough Council and other local agencies including Matthew 25 and The Salvation Army who help with referrals and provide amazing support during the daytime for guests whilst in the Winter Night Shelter. See other agency links here.