Hackney Winter Night Shelter

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Man in bed at a shelter

Hackney Winter Night Shelter (HWNS) provides a hot meal and a warm bed for homeless guests who would otherwise be out on the streets during the coldest winter months.

Our vision is for a route out of homelessness for everyone in need in Hackney, so we offer this alongside professional and holistic support to help our guests rebuild their lives.

We are a volunteer-led organisation that values the contribution and experience of volunteers from all walks of life.

Hackney Winter Night Shelter has been opening doors to homeless people in the borough since 1993. It is run by Hackney Doorways, a registered charity.

Our values

Our three core values of supportiveness, inclusion and community guide our work.

We support guests with more than a meal and a bed, offering holistic support to help them rebuild their lives. This includes providing travel cards so they can attend important appointments, working with local agencies to find them more stable accommodation and providing move-on packs to help them settle into new homes. Find out more about our guests.

We welcome guests from any and all backgrounds, offering support based only on their needs and our ability to meet them. This year we’ve seen more female guests at our shelter and longer waiting lists than ever before. This inclusive approach extends to our 700 volunteers too. Become a volunteer.

We can only do all of this with the generous support of a community of people like you. People who buy Belter tickets, raffle tickets, mugs and bags; people who run half-marathons, cycle incredible distances or help us out at festival stalls; and people who volunteer at the shelter or in the back office supporting our work.  Get involved with our fundraising efforts.

Hackney Winter Night Shelter is run by the charity Hackney Doorways, which is managed by trustees who are also volunteers and coordinators at the shelter. We are responsible for the shelter, which we provide in partnership with local churches.

Our coordinators are volunteers who run the shelter each night and we support coordinators and volunteers with central administration, communication, resources and training.

Hackney Winter Night Shelter link workers are paid staff who support our guests individually to help them find more secure accommodation and access appropriate services. We also employ a shelter administrator to help with the day-to-day admin and logistics for the shelter.

How did the shelter get started?

More than 20 years ago a group of Hackney residents and members of Hackney church congregations, some of who had personal experience of homelessness, were thinking about how they could help the people they saw sleeping on the streets around Hackney. They had the idea that if a group of churches each took responsibility for running a shelter for one night of the week, some of those people could be helped. What started as a loose network of volunteers from local churches collaborating to address a problem on their doorsteps, has developed into Hackney Winter Night Shelter.

How does the shelter work?

Hackney Winter Night Shelter is run in a different venue each night of the week. Venues are spread across Hackney and now also include Bethnal Green. Each venue has its own team of volunteers and a coordinator who arranges the rota. We aim to have enough volunteers so people don’t have to be at the shelter every week. In particular, we try to make sure people don’t have to do overnight shifts more than once a month. We ensure there is always an experienced coordinator who is in charge at the shelter.
You can read about our 2015/16 season in our Annual Report.

Meet the Trustees

Andrew Hudson (Chair, line manager of Link Workers):

Andrew Hudson has been Chair of Trustees since June 2014, and has volunteered mostly at St Mary’s, Stoke Newington, for 12 years.  He works part-time for the Big Lottery Fund, and is Chair of Circle 33 Housing Trust, along with the voluntary role of Chair of The Old Church community arts centre.  Andrew’s main career was mostly in central government, in both policy and operational roles.  His recreations are running, and writing a book about the London to Holyhead road.”

Sarah Watson (Treasurer)
Sarah is currently the treasurer of Hackney Doorways, a role which involves reviewing the yearly budget for the charity, reconciling the accounts, paying expenses and invoices and creating the annual accounts. She currently volunteers at the Dorm on Friday Winters at St James the Great Community Hall and is also involved in the Action Group helping to fundraise for the charity.
Having a background in finance Sarah has worked in various roles across the Insurance and banking sector over the past 10 years. Her interests include spending time with friends and family, cooking, and visiting the many cultural events London has to offer.

Jane Ratford (Engagement of Volunteers)
Jane has lived in Hackney since 2009, has been a volunteer with Hackney Winter Night Shelter since 2012 and a shelter coordinator since 2013. She is currently Head of MRCP(UK) Written Exams at the Royal College of Physicians. She brings with her a strong background in customer service and operational service delivery which she channels into developing a sustainable and engaged groups of volunteers and coordinators for HWNS.

Niul Dillon Hatcher (Policies and Practices, including Health & Safety)
Niul has lived in the area since 1987 and is a lawyer. He heard about HWNS after working with CRISIS and has been a volunteer and a trustee since 2010. He helps at St Michael’s & All Angels. He helped set up the legal clinic for guests of the shelter and others in need of advice. Two of his children volunteer and several god-children join in too. He has run the Hackney Half Marathon in aid of the shelter with his children and will be doing so again this year.

Peter Blackwell (Fundraising)
A Hackney resident since 2004, Peter has volunteered at the HWNS since 2014, becoming a trustee in Nov 2016. He works is the Chief Executive at ReachOut, based in Dalston, and runs his own businesses in sports and language learning. He is a Foundation Governor at Bishop Challoner Catholic Federation of Schools, sits on the Gatekeeper Committee for Leadership through Sports and currently serves as a South East Committee Member for BBC Children in Need.

Andrea Daniels (Marketing and Communications)
Andrea became a Trustee in November 2016 and has been a resident of Hackney since 2000. Andrea works as Director of Marketing, Communications and Digital for the British Council, where she leads the promotion of the organisations 100+ social and education programmes. Andrea has worked in the education and social inclusion sectors for over 20 years, first as a social researcher at Ipsos MORI and then as a strategic marketer for the BBC.

Sarah Young
Sarah Young joined the Board of Trustees in November 2016. She has lived in Hackney since the 1980s, has raised her family here and has been closely involved in local education issues. Sarah’s background is as a barrister in Public Law, working in academia and the civil service. In 2016 she left the Law Commission to undertake a MSc in Social Policy Research with a view to pursuing her interest in public policy development.

Sarah Cottingham
Sara has lived in Hackney for 24 years and has volunteered at the night shelter since she joined St Mary’s in 2000. A teacher by profession, her 25 years in international development led her to work in Africa and Asia and with organisations such as Actionaid, VSO and World Bank. Her last post was CEO of the Africa Educational Trust. She is now a volunteer worker with vulnerable women, migrants and the homeless.

Luke Bruce

Our Staff

Kate Higgins – Shelter Manager
Bri English – Shelter Administrator
Tom Beamont – Advocate Worker
Conor Cregan – Advocate Worker

Office address (for correspondence only, do not call):
Hackney Winter Night Shelter
Room 3, The Round Chapel
2 Powerscroft Road
London E5 0PU

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email: info@hwns.org.uk