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News / Interfaith Voices: Robes winter night shelter

Interfaith Voices: Robes winter night shelter

Interfaith Voices

F&BF Communications

28 / 02 / 19

sleeping homeless

Faiths coming together to give shelter to the homeless

Helping the homeless has become an increasingly key aspect of the work of all faith groups. Faith leaders and volunteers from Churches, Mosques and Synagogues have opened up their places of workshop as night shelters.   

In this edition of Interfaith Voices, we asked F&BF award winners working with the homeless to write about their motivations and experiences.

Faith & Belief Community award winners, Robes Winter Night Shelter, is based in Southwark.  Charity manager, Nick Faraday and one of the volunteer’s write about the project. Since 2007 Robes has operated across Southwark and Lambeth to provide shelter for people who find themselves homeless in London. With the support of over 30 Church venues and over 1000 volunteers,  Robes also supports people with vital welfare advice, enabling them to access services and accommodation. 

Nick Faraday, Robes Charity Manager:

Anyone can fall into the misfortune of homelessness.  Our amazing volunteers and partner churches allow us to offer warm beds throughout the winter in our South London night shelters, while are advice workers are busy all year round, providing guidance and support to out homeless guests.  We empower people who are homeless and help them rebuild their lives.

Volunteer from Rotherhide, London:

I started volunteering for ROBES about 3 years ago. I remember very well the first time I was standing in the kitchen, making a vegetable tomato casserole for 20+ guests and volunteers, instantly filled with a sense of community and importance. Working as a volunteer for ROBES has given me more insight into homeless people living in London, not everything is always as they seem. When you hear the word homeless, your brain interprets that as something negative and associates that thought with other words: dirty, unsanitary, drugs, alcoholic and so on.

For me, this thought was something to be proven quite wrong and has taught me a lesson for sure. Being part of a Norwegian Church in London can sometimes also be seen as “homeless”, living and working outside of our country of origin. Fundamentally, the value that has always been the most important to me, is hospitality. Don’t judge people immediately for who they are. The Church in Rotherhithe has very wide doors and the ceilings are high…something I hope people experience when they come here. No matter what you look like, if you are a catholic or a Muslim, if you are rich or poor or if you like someone of the same sex, we will greet you with the same respect as any other person. What is so great about being part of ROBES is that it keeps us aware of that people are just people and I consider these guests as my friends. If I didn’t know the reason why these people showed up at our doorstep, I wouldn’t even know they were homeless. That’s how wrong our perception is!

I’m into my 3rd season with ROBES now, and I’m honoured to take part in something of this calibre. I truly think that a little bit of hospitality can make a huge difference, as long as you leave people up to being themselves. Being a team leader for this venue, participating in the project has turned out to be the single most important thing I’ve done in my almost 6 years working for this Church. Thanks to all the volunteers and all the guests for being such a lovely bunch of human beings.

To find out more about Robes click here.

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