Winter night shelter plans for Lewes rough sleepers

The drop-in centre at Westgate Chapel in Lewes High Street
The drop-in centre at Westgate Chapel in Lewes High Street

A team of local volunteers who run the Lewes Open Door homeless drop-in centre at Westgate Chapel are working to set up a winter night shelter for rough sleepers, the first of its kind in Lewes.

The shelter will provide a safe space and warm accommodation for up to five homeless people, with a simple evening meal and breakfast.

Lewes Open Door, a small not-for-profit organisation, will run the one-month trial shelter in January 2019 and is appealing for more volunteers.

It urgently wants to hear from anyone who can help with administration, food ordering, laundry and packing up equipment. Five volunteers are needed each night for a month to run the shelter. Training and DBS Certificates will be provided by the organisation.

David Griffiths, Chair of Lewes Open Door, said: “Last year the temperature did not rise above -1C for a whole week. I am determined that nobody should have to sleep outside in conditions like that this winter.”

At a recent National Rough Sleeper Count meeting, it was estimated that up to eight people regularly sleep rough in Lewes.

Lewes Open Door was set up in October 2017 by local man Thomas Schorr-Kon and like-minded individuals seeking to help and support the street community in Lewes. The group started life as ‘Rehoming Lewes’ and now welcomes any vulnerable people in Lewes District.

They currently see up to 10 guests a day at the drop-in centre at Westgate Chapel. The project offers a safe and friendly space in which to relax, eat and wash, as well as assistance for vulnerable people wishing to access wider social services.

The organisers are working with the churches in Lewes and have received provisional support for the winter night shelter from Trinity, Kings’ and Christ Church.

Those wishing to make donations can do so via the GoFundMe link on the organisation’s Facebook page Lewes Open Door. Volunteers or anyone wishing to donate supplies should contact David Griffiths on 07806 777 106. For more information visit www.lewesopendoor.wordpress.com