Twelve churches launch innovative homeless shelter

TWELVE East End churches have joined forces to run a rolling night shelter for homeless people.

The shelter, named GrowTH, has already brought about some success stories since it started last month, with two homeless people resettled into permanent addresses.

Pastor Tony Uddin, from Tower Hamlets Community Church, which is leading the project, said the shelter is proving vital because of the “gap of services” in Tower Hamlets.

He added: “One of our guests told me that the night he spent in one of our shelters was the first safe, uninterrupted sleep he had had in ages. This makes it all worth it.”

Some 120 volunteers run the shelter, which is open seven nights a week and rotates around the borough’s churches.

Guests are welcomed at 7.30pm, given a hot meal and also breakfast in the morning.

The average age of users, which have included two women, is 36-45.

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Most say lack of money is the reason they ended up on the streets.

GrowTh is set to run until the end of February but the organisers want to make it a permanent fixture.

Mr Uddin added: “There is a real need for this type of project in Tower Hamlets as we are faced with a gap in service provision when it comes to helping local vulnerable homeless people.

“Churches can make a real difference and implement the much publicised Big Society ethos.”

Since the project started on December 1, its 15 beds have been full every night.

It has already had to turn away 16 people over its course because of a lack of beds.

The following churches are involved: Tower Hamlets Community Church, Good Shepherd Mission, Christ Church Spitalfields, St Pauls Shadwell, East London Tabernacle, All Saints Church, E1 Community Church, Havering Christian Fellowship, St Mathias Community Centre and St Mary and St Josephs.