Twenty years ago, a group of Hackney residents and members of Hackney church congregations, some of whom had personal experience of homelessness, thought about how they could help the people they saw sleeping on the streets around Hackney.
They had the idea that, if each member of a group of churches took responsibility for running a shelter for one night of the week, during a season, they could help some of these people. What started as a loose network of volunteers from local churches collaborating to address a problem on their door-steps, has developed into Hackney Winter Night Shelter.
The Shelter provides a warm welcome, dinner, bed and breakfast for 25 homeless people each night from November to March. We also help guests to escape the street and find long-term accommodation.
The Shelter venues are spread around Hackney. Each has its own team of volunteers and a coordinator who arranges the rota. We aim to have enough volunteers so people don’t have to be at the Shelter every week. Volunteers total approx. 700.
Although we use church halls,we are an open organisation and have volunteers and guests from all and no faiths.
In particular, we try to make sure people don’t have to do overnight shifts more than once a month. We also ensure there is always an experienced Overnight Coordinator who is in charge at the Shelter.
About Hackney Doorways
The organisation has expanded and to ensure appropriate oversight of the Shelter, Hackney Doorways, the formal side of the Shelter was registered as a charity. As a registered charity, we submit reports and accounts as required to support the Shelter. To enable the Shelter to operate and expand, the charity relies on grants and donations. Hackney Doorways organises volunteer training, raises funds for salaries for our link workers and administrator and equipment, and helps to coordinate between the churches. Some churches offer their halls but have few volunteers and cannot pay for running costs. In these cases, Doorways has helped to find volunteer coordinators, and picked up the shelter running costs.
The charity is ambitious to do more for homeless people in London. To help with this, we want to recruit new trustees (to replace some who are retiring) to help shape the future and to strengthen the governance of the organisation.
Charity trustees by law have control of the charity and its funds: HD has an annual budget of some £100,000. The trustees are responsible for the overall conduct of the organisation, for employing staff, and for the management of the shelter and related work.
In practical terms, at Hackney Doorways, trustees meet about nine times a year, every monthly through the Autumn and Winter Season and periodically between April and September.
As well as attending meetings, each trustee takes responsibility for a particular aspect of the running of the charity, e.g. finances, fundraising, reporting, organising communications, purchasing equipment, managing insurance cover, managing staff or resolving legal questions. These tasks will involve several hours a month in addition to time spent at meetings and reading papers.
As with all charities, the trustee role is unpaid. Expenses are paid for exceptional costs.
Appointment is for three years in the first instance.