Friends open doors to homeless

Weston-super Mare Meeting House provides shelter in the cold weather

Temperatures hit record lows in the UK last week | Photo: Daniel Lobo / flickr CC

Weston-super-Mare Meeting House was in the news last week for opening its doors to homeless people by providing an emergency shelter in the cold weather.

Quaker and non-Quaker volunteers served dinner and breakfast to local homeless people from Tuesday night to Sunday night, when the town was besieged with snow.

Barry Edwards, member and overseer at the Meeting, told the Friend: ‘I did it because I was frightened that people would die. As our clerk said, we can’t walk by on the other side. It had to be done.

‘I am relieved we managed to alleviate any deaths, because people have died in previous years.’

According to Barry Edwards, the shelter housed eight rough sleepers for the first night, ten for the second, fifteen for the third night, and nineteen for the rest of the week.  Local businesses gave food, including Greggs, Nandos and the Grand Pier who already donate to the Meeting’s weekly Soup Kitchen.

Barry Edwards said: ‘The community really came together. The council was very grateful because they don’t have the provision to house all the rough sleepers, as some bed and breakfasts won’t accept them, and it’s great that they have agreed to see them and re-start their claims. But basic human needs are not being met.

‘In this country, we should be able to provide shelter, warmth, food and dignity.’

Elsewhere, in London,the Quaker Homeless Action Shelter Management Committee set up an emergency shelter for homeless people last week in partnership with Pilion Trust.

The shelter was located in the basement of the Camden Town Methodist Church on Plender Street.

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