Winter Night Shelter is welcomed by rough sleepers in Milton Keynes

The Winter Night Shelter has filled up faster than any other year since it opened its doors this month, say organisers.

The charity admitted it was unsure about the demand for shelter following the council’s announcement that 68 of MK’s rough sleepers have been housed over recent months.

Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes

Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes

Chair Richard Wightman said: “However, since opening on November 1, the shelter has filled fuller and faster than in any previous year - despite starting a month earlier than in previous years. So there is clearly still a big need for the help we provide.”

He added: “We welcome the efforts of MK Council to house people in recent months, and this has certainly resulted in a visible reduction of the tents and incidences of rough sleeping in the town centre.”

The Winter Night Shelter, run by volunteers, provides emergency accommodation and meals to those who have nowhere to stay during the coldest months of the year.

It is based during daytime hours at Unity Park, opposite CMK rail station, but at night the homeless people are taken to churches and community centres all over MK to sleep.

Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes

Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes

The charity’s welfare team works hard to help people move on to more settled accommodation and find work where possible.

In the first week this year they have found a permanent home for one of the guests.

“Another guest expressed relief at the help provided, saying ‘I’m already putting on weight, I am being fed so well’.’” said Richard.

Jack Walker, welfare director of the WNS said: “Already the weather has produced some very cold nights and there will be more to come. We’re pleased to be able to provide immediate practical support and to help guests find longer term accommodation in tandem with other agencies and the local authority.

“This season we are looking forward to the benefit of have thirteen other charities working out of the newly refurbished Unity Park Station, the new daytime support centre, and the complementary care this generates. Our thanks go out to all who support this work that gives people a chance of regaining a foothold in normal society.”

The WNS is currently providing 15 beds a night via different venues on a rota. From December 1 they will be providing an additional 15 beds a night as a second venue will begin operating each night.

There is still a need for volunteers to join and help fill some remaining gaps in the rotas. Volunteers typically work a few hours a week or on a fortnightly basis at either the early evening reception café or one of the overnight venues around Milton Keynes.

To volunteer please sign up at www.winternightsheltermk.com.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Welfare Officer to find out of there are any vacancies and to arrange an assessment interview (tel: 07549 609427;

welfare@winternightsheltermk.com).

The WNS relies on donations and welcomes offers of financial support. It would particularly like to encourage runners in MK to sign up to Rightmove’s ‘On the Move’ campaign, to run in the MK Marathon or Half Marathon on May 6 2019 to fundraise for the Winter Night Shelter.

Successful applicants will be asked to raise £500 which will go directly to the Winter Night Shelter MK. Rightmove will provide a benefits package including free entry to the race, goody packs, discounts for sports equipment, training support groups, exclusive talks and a VIP party at the Race Village Festival at the end of the race.

Applications can be made at www.otmv.co.uk/team/join-wns

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