Emerging from our third lockdown in London it feels a real moment to reflect on the distance Hackney Winter Night Shelter has travelled over the last year and the challenges that undoubtedly lay ahead, as we continue our mission to provide a route out of homelessness for people in Hackney.
We all know this has been a year unlike any other in our lifetime and that we are very much still living it. We’ve needed to be reactive and responsive and to change to meet the challenges faced. It’s been challenging, but throughout it all we’ve stayed open, we’ve expanded, and we’ve (fingers crossed) managed to weather the worst of the financial storms of the last year.
Looking back, March 2020 feels a world away. When the pandemic struck, we were gearing up to close our 14 winter venues and support our guests into new accommodation. Suddenly, we found ourselves in one venue 24/7, (thank you Frampton Park Baptist Church,) some guests were self-isolating and only a handful of volunteers and staff were permitted. Like so many charities, our big fundraising events like the Hackney Half and the Belter for the Shelter were put on ice and all the small businesses and communities that funded us so generously found themselves facing their own challenges to navigate.
But here we are in May 2021, with a great temporary static venue ‘Stokey’, our women’s shelter in Clapton and looking forward to supporting guests throughout the year to find ways forward with their lives.
It’s not been easy, and it’s taken the support of our amazing community, staff, volunteers and fellow trustees to get us there. It was a tough call to say goodbye to our roving shelters and we thank them all for their amazing work over many years. Even during the most challenging days we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved.
We all know, the economic reality of life after lockdown is likely to be tough, pushing more people to the brink and potentially onto the streets. The same issues of affordable housing remain, as a recent Homeless Link and Trust for London report found:
“a lack of available, affordable accommodation will make it difficult to move people on from emergency accommodation after the pandemic.’’.
Times remain tough and will undoubtedly get tougher. Your continued support would be most welcome. Check out our latest Annual Report for more about our work.
Lastly, I wanted to say a personal thank you, to everyone who has got us here. 2021 marks our silver anniversary, over the years, thousands have supported guests to move forward with their lives. We hope that we will be able to come together to celebrate.
It really does take a village, and the village never ceases to amaze. Thank you.
Chair of Trustees
Hackney Winter Night Shelter / Hackney Doorways