Instead of sending Christmas cards to its clients this year, Interdirect opted to continue its fundraising efforts for the homeless people within our community. With the 25 mile challenge walk raising more than £6,000 for a new homelessness ‘City Fund’ back in September 2017, we were chuffed to raise a further £1,010 for Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK), just by asking our friends and clients to sacrifice a small Christmas treat in aid of homelessness.
Managing Director, Nicholas Mann and Senior PR Account Manager, Anne Walsh, were keen to find out more about the work of the Winter Night Shelter and volunteered to help out and see first-hand where the money we raised will be spent. Here’s what they told us:
The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK) does so much more than offer a roof over the heads of the homeless in our City, it’s a place where everyone is equal, where nothing is too much trouble and where lives can be changed.
As soon as we walked through the door there was a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, we were greeted by Phil and Adrian, just two of the many volunteers who go above and beyond to support the good work of WNSMK. After a cuppa and a brief chat with the six other volunteers about what to expect, the minibus with mattresses and bedding arrived for us to turn a church hall in Netherfield into a safe, warm and dry refuge for the night.
Not long after that we welcomed the nine guests who were booked in to stay that night. The shelter can accommodate up to 15, however, there are rules around drinking alcohol, and apparently there was one person that had unfortunately broken those. “It’s a real shame when that happens,” Phil told us, “It’s a guy we know well and he’s been making really good progress, so it is hard to hear that he’s not been let in. But he knows the rules, so he hasn’t helped himself.”
The guests were welcomed like old friends coming over for dinner, there were hugs, high fives, and handshakes, before they were offered tea, coffee or a glass of water with a biscuit.
Sarah was the cook for the night, she told us that she’d had some help with peeling the spuds from her three children earlier in the evening. A dinner of sausage, mash, veg and onion gravy was served at 8pm and all of the guests and volunteers ate together. After a quick tidy up from the main course, a fruit crumble and custard followed, which went down very well.
Over dinner, we chatted about the struggles that many of the guys are facing and the work being done, not just at the Winter Night Shelter itself, but also through its welfare teams, to try to help them get back on track. Phil told us: “The simple fact is that there is not enough affordable housing in Milton Keynes. Some of the guys we’re supporting are working, but it’s really hard to hold down a job and keep on the right path when you’ve got nowhere to live.”
“We had a 70 year old chap here the other week, he’s been in the UK for almost 10 years, but because he hasn’t got the correct paperwork he can’t get housing, it’s awful.” Continues Phil.
After dinner, many of the guests enjoy some TV in a separate room, although some are just keen to get their heads down.
“We tend to do ‘lights out’ at around 10/10:30ish”, explains Phil “and we have three volunteers who stay overnight to supervise. They will then do the breakfasts in the morning, it really is a team effort.”
The whole evening was a truly humbling experience, we will certainly be continuing to support and raise funds for this amazing charity and all of its volunteers, who give so much to help those less fortunate than themselves.
If you would like to find out more about WNSMK, to volunteer or to donate, please visit winternightsheltermk.com, or search Winter Night Shelter MK on Facebook.
For further information or to request an interview please contact Anne Walsh, Senior PR Account Manager at Interdirect on tel: 0345 121 5566 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.