More – than – Shelter
Forget Batman and Robin. Meet the real Heroes.
Written by Ed Vickers
We support Shelters who’s work blow us away.
C4WS is one of them.
So meet Jenna from their team, who in our opinion, is as close to a real life hero as they come.
Hello Jenna! What on earth is C4WS?
We’re a small Camden based Homeless charity that exists to support those without a home to rebuild their lives.
We run a Winter Night Shelter, Friday drop-in lunch club, Jobs Club, Mentoring & Befriending scheme, Home From Home Hosting scheme, English classes, Wellbeing services, and new for the upcoming winter, Sunday Club. We support more than 300 homeless people a year. With a 800 people volunteer force.
What’s your role?
I’m the Shelter Coordinator. I ensure the winter night shelter runs safely for our guests. My responsibilities include training volunteers, managing guest referrals, helping guests to settle into the shelter and dealing with any issues that may occur. I also manage our weekly drop-in lunch club, known as Friday Club, which offers lunch, showers, haircuts, clothing & companionship for up to 50 people each week, all year round.
The role is full on, with a good balance of frontline work and operations, which I love.
Let us in on a “I can’t believe this is happening” moment?
Having to explain to a young Eritrean refugee that gravy is for pouring on your roast dinner, and not for drinking.
Tell us about the classic myths around homelessness?
That ‘It could never happen to me!’.
With the current housing crisis, soaring rent prices, zero-hours contracts and harsh benefit reforms, not having a place to call home is becoming a reality for more and more people. We see people with Masters degrees, people who’ve had long careers in various industries; young people whose parents have thrown them out of the family home because of their sexuality; refugees and migrants fleeing persecution for a better life in the UK; and everything else in between. Everyone’s story is unique, and even though there are often reoccurring themes – divorce, mental health, addiction, family breakdown, most of our guests would have thought at one point in their lives ‘It could never happen to me!’.
What gets you out of bed?
Hopefully not a phone call in the middle of the night, saying that there is an issue at the shelter. Seriously, seeing people’s confidence and hope grow day by day as they stay with us at the shelter. The transformation we see in people as they move into their accommodation after their 28 day stay with us, is well worth getting out of bed for!
What’s your reaction when you read the stats on homelessness?
I don’t trust the stats on homelessness! The problem is far worse than they indicate. The stats do not include sofa-surfers, people staying in shelters or any other forms of ‘hidden-homelessness’.
How can we get behind what you’re doing beyond socks?
Financial donations through the C4WS website are always appreciated.
Any other clothing donations also. You can find me on firstname.lastname@example.org
C4WS. We salute you.