Food Bank and winter night shelter
The Gospel Centre runs a Foodbank to help those in need - young, old, women, men and families from all walks of life in Haringey.
Our visitors come for different reasons - perhaps benefits were stopped or delayed, or some other crisis has led to them being referred for help. We as volunteers serve them and provide a listening ear over a cup of tea/coffee/water. Sometimes, we are able to refer people to other sources of support.
Haringey Foodbank (see http://haringey.foodbank.org.uk/ ) operates under the guidelines of the Trussell Trust. The Gospel Centre is in partnership with Living Spring Church who administer Haringey Foodbank and we've been offering this service since 2011. Currently we help around 12 people on average a week. This equates to about 100kg of food a week, including those who claim for their families.
The bulk of our food is supplied by Haringey Foodbank, located at Selby Centre. We are also regularly blessed with food donations from members of the public, local shops such as Dunns of Crouch End, Primary Schools (North Haringey Primary School in particular) other local churches and of course, members of the congregation.
We open Sundays, 11.30am-1pm and Tuesday, 6.30-9pm.
We have a core team of volunteers from both The Gospel Centre and the wider community working together. One of our volunteers summed up his experience of helping as; “a great privilege to be able to provide a service to people in need and to do so with such generous and empathetic colleagues. I would also want to acknowledge how very humbling it is to interact with people who use the foodbank, notwithstanding their circumstances, who frequently demonstrate great levels of humanity and consideration.”
The aim of Haringey Foodbank is to ensure no one goes to bed on an empty stomach, and we do our best to meet this goal. Thank you all for your support and prayers for this service.
If you would like to help as a volunteer, or perhaps make a donation of food, then please feel free to contact us through the church office on 020 8374 7708.
tackling homelessness in the capital
Ten years ago two ladies from The Gospel Centre decided they should do something to help people sleeping rough on the streets and park benches in Haringey. Their idea was for a shelter to operate through the worst of the winter weather where rough sleepers could sleep safely, have a hot dinner and breakfast and be helped to sort out the problems that were stopping them getting rehoused.
With full backing from The Gospel Centre and support from other local churches, they launched the Haringey Churches Winter Shelter. The concept was simple – each of the initial seven churches that volunteered to take part would host the homeless guests for one night of the week during the worst three months of winter.
“If it wasn’t for the Winter Shelter I could have frozen to death” said John. He had spent the past three nights sleeping on a park bench in freezing weather after being barred from his home. He hadn’t a clue what to do. He found a warm, welcoming, safe place as a guest in the Winter Shelter where he was advised and encouraged to sort out the issues that confronted him and eventually he was found more permanent accommodation. A mother and her daughter were on the street after her husband left them and they couldn’t pay the rent. We provided shelter and help for a few weeks till they were rehoused as priority cases by Haringey Council. Over the years, with the help of the Winter Shelter, about 80-90% of the guests obtain permanent accommodation.
How does the shelter work?
Each church provides the resources and volunteer helpers to run the shelter on their night. Guests and volunteers sit down together to a home-made hot dinner prepared and served by the volunteers. Helpers are kept busy setting up tables, serving meals, clearing away, setting up and making the beds, chatting and playing games with the guests. A second shift of helpers (2 or3) stay overnight to sort out any issues that might arise – normally nothing worse than someone’s snoring keeping people awake, but one year a woman was taken ill and a helper accompanied her to hospital in the ambulance. Finally the morning shift starts early as the volunteers get organised to cook a full English breakfast for those who want it. After breakfast some guests leave for work, others to visit job centres or the council housing office, or work in the library.
Volunteers are always needed so why not get involved in this worthwhile work – training is provided.
The volunteers at one of the churches involved said it was the best thing that they had ever done. They had found a practical way of putting their faith into action (or alternatively – working for social justice).
Homelessness isn’t confined to winter of course and there is one church in Haringey that is running a 24-7 homeless shelter all year round.