As part of this project, St Dunstan's is host to 14 homeless guests for 6 or 7 nights each winter. We provide dinner and friendly company, beds with fresh linen, and a hearty breakfast in the morning. The shelter project runs for 4 months each year, and helps homeless people on the way to a more stable life and hopefully permanent accommodation.
Alison is part of this group who go out onto the streets of Acton overnight at weekends to help those who find themselves in a vulnerable position, often through drinking too much. The group also help diffuse what could sometimes become flashpoints of trouble just through their calming presence. As a church we pray for their great work in our area.
St Dunstan's is part of the Besom in Ealing . This project helps in a very practical way with gardening, decorating and household goods. Teams from the church typically spend a day at someone's home, perhaps painting, wallpapering or putting up curtains.
This initiative is part of the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity helping those in our local community in crisis. Food is donated from various places like schools, churches and supermarket collections etc. The Foodbank provides those people with three days supply of emergency food. Each client is given a voucher issued from someone like their doctor or welfare worker. The client will then bring this voucher to the Foodbank centre, where they are greeted by a volunteer, who will sit down and listen to what issues they wish to discuss over a cup of tea and cake. They are taken through the options, and a relevant list of the type of food they are able to take away with them is produced, dependent on the size of their family. While having a chat the opportunity may arise to offer other additional services, which may go some way to help resolve their problems.
Before the clients leave with their bags of food, they are offered the chance to pray, which has been a huge comfort to many. They tend to leave feeling more relaxed and better prepared for the days ahead.
As a volunteer, it makes one appreciate all the daily opportunities and things we have in life and often take for granted, like eating three meals a days!
The Ealing Foodbank charity is such a worth while and immediate community project giving to others who have less than ourselves, just as Jesus preached.
If you would like to help with delivering leaflets, collecting food or helping clients at the Foodbank Cafe then speak to Lesley or Jacqui.
Little Acorns is a playgroup for pre-school children on a Friday between 9.45-11.15am in term time. It is an opportunity for parents in the parish to bring their children to take part in craft activities, free play, snack time, and ends in a group singing session. It is a welcoming place for parents to meet up and along with their children make new friends, and feel part of the church community.
If anyone is interested in joining us please contact Jude Amedee on 07956 817667 to check the waiting list or come along on a Friday morning to meet us.
Cost is £1.50 for adult and first child and £1.00 for additional children.
This is our weekly after-school service for children of primary school age and their parents/carers. We meet every Monday in term time at 3.45 for refreshments and crafts, then go into the church for songs, games, drama and quizzes around the theme of a Bible story. It's very informal, great fun, involves lots of participation, and is a good time for adult fellowship too. Contact Jon Westall or Ros Yates for details (07713 163756)
Volunteers from the church have trained with Education Charity Transforming Lives for Good to coach primary school children in need of 1-to-1 time and attention to address behavioural or emotional issues. We are currently working with East Acton Primary School, and hoping to roll out the program to other local schools. Contact Alison Wood for more information (07941 696597)
Quotes from volunteer helpers:
" I was initially very cautious about volunteering to help with Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter, but knew I would be working as part of a team with people that I know and trust. As the weeks went by I thoroughly enjoyed working as part of a team with my friends and feeling as though, in our small way, we were doing something really worthwhile! It was also good to get to know some of the guests, slowly, at their pace, if they wished - so many seemed to have just had really bad luck, and now help was being provided. It was also heartening that each week some faces were missing, to be replaced by new ones, meaning that housing and help had been found!"
" I had previously helped with the cleaning up on the morning the guests had left but I had not actually been part of the team who hosted the shelter. I have to admit I was a little anxious as I didn't know what to expect. On that first evening I got into the church hall and was greeted by a number of people who where busily putting beds together and then stuffing duvets and pillows into covers. I just joined in and pretty soon we had a wonderfully welcoming looking space for the guests to spend the night. After a cup of tea and some prayer it was time for the guest to come in. I no longer felt anxious: these men and women were so friendly. We shared a meal together (it was one of the guests' birthday so we sang Happy Birthday and gave her a card; she seemed really moved at that). I ended my evening by playing a few games of cards. I realised that I had nothing to worry about, it turned out to be a really enjoyable evening meeting up with some lovely people who appreciated sharing a good meal and spending some welcome time off the streets. I knew that I would be back to spend more time supporting the night shelter."
Some guests' comments & exeriences:
"At first I was a little worried about travelling around London to different shelters every night. However, things changed when I arrived on the first night and was made to feel welcome with a cup of tea. The people who volunteer there are friendly and helpful, and provide wonderful meals and of course a safe place to sleep. The breakfasts were enormous as were the dinners. All meals were well cooked and had obviously had a lot of thought put into them. We even had a chef one night doing the catering. The sleeping arrangements were well organised and had been set up before we arrived."
Laura - now living in Acton
Adam and Agata came to London from Poland in search of work. They had poorly paid, cash-in-hand jobs that soon finished. They found shelter in public garages, squats, tents and under bridges. They were still homeless when Agata found she was pregnant, and were taken in to the shelter. Adam commented that he enjoyed the good food, safe atmosphere with no alcohol or fighting, and weekly bus passes that helped them to get to their daily appointments and local places for food distribution. Agata appreciated the opportunity to get rest, good food, a quiet space and a pleasant social experience without alcohol involved. After much hard work by St Mungo's outreach team they became eligible for housing benefits and were found a small studio flat in Acton. Their son was born in June 2012.