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King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter gets funding boost from Freebridge Community Fund


Some of King’s Lynn’s most vulnerable residents are getting a new place to rest their heads this winter, and with this they’ve had a helping hand from Freebridge Community Housing.

King’s Lynn Winter Night Shelter provides a safe and warm place to sleep for anyone who finds themselves homeless in the town, from October to March each year. This year they’ve moved from their old base at St Ann’s Fort to what used to be the vicarage for St Johns, the church in the Walks, however before they could open some work was needed to make it suitable for them to use. Co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick explains: “Most of the work required was about turning a domestic property into something that can be used for a number of people.”

The charity was successful in applying for a grant from the Freebridge Community Fund which has helped with the costs of some of the work needed. A lot of time and effort has been put in to making it feel as homely as possible as Lucy tells us: “It’s very different from the last place, it’s bigger but it’s also a domestic property rather than an adapted commercial one so it has a very different feel - we want them to feel like they’re coming to a home.”

The Night Shelter relies on a huge amount of community support – with everything from welcoming the guests to cooking the meals done by volunteers. Lucy tells us there are looking for volunteers at the moment: “We’ll start looking at who’s going to come and help cook for the guests, who’s going to be around during the night and how we are going to get food for them during the winter. Last winter all the meals that we served to our guests were from donated ingredients from the local community who were amazing.”

Anyone wanting to support the charity by volunteering their time is invited to a series of information evenings starting next week. Full details are available here…https://www.klwns.org.uk/volunteering?fbclid=IwAR1gGnPXqbrVnj0eEAFYWDsTfUurQHGTT2z_co-HgV9wgXDwPGlcYtnB_0M

However, if people want to donate food or other items then the charity regularly posts updated lists of what’s needed on their Facebook and twitter pages, this could range from potatoes to toilet cleaner!

The fact that there is so much community support for the shelter and its guests actually has a massive impact on the mental health of those guests. Lucy says it can be tough for those with nowhere else to go: “If you’re starting from the position where ‘I’m homeless and nobody’s looking at me and nobody cares’ which is easy to feel, seeing a huge wave of support and kindness in a visible way is very helpful, and I know that a lot of guests last winter found it very touching when they saw people bringing things here.

“A lot of people realise that homeless people aren’t other people – this could be you or me next week. They think ‘It could be my mother, my granny, my child’.”

Whatever the next few months holds, Lucy and her team are doing everything they can to make sure that anyone who finds themselves in need of a bed has a welcome at the shelter: “Everyone who comes to us will have been through some kind of trauma – either recently or over a long period of time, perhaps starting in childhood. A lot of the distress that they’ll bring with them is from the fact that they don’t have anywhere which is theirs, they don’t have anywhere to go back to at the end of the day when they’ve had a difficult day.

“We want the night shelter to be a place where people come for sanctuary, somewhere that feels like home – even though it’s meant to be very temporary.”

The funding from Freebridge’s Community Fund is part of a number of grants provided to West Norfolk charities and community groups by the housing association. Thirteen projects across the area have benefitted this year, with each being awarded amounts up to £1000. This year Freebridge raised the amount available to the fund to £10,000, double the £5000 that is normally offered, to mark the fact that they've been providing this money to groups for a decade.

We'll be taking a closer look at each of the grant recipients as part of #FreebridgeFundFriday each week.