A WINCHESTER charity offering an essential lifeline to people from across Hampshire who are experiencing homelessness has been overwhelmed following a request for volunteers.

Winchester Churches Nightshelter launched an appeal for help following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement people to stay home.

Since then the organisation has been adjusting to a new set up, with all residents staying in and only leaving when essential.

Chief executive Michèle Price said: “As with everyone, acclimatising to the changes in our lifestyles in recent days has been challenging in some ways. At the Nightshelter, our residents are welcome to use their temporary home and stay on site all day, and we are now open for them to remain on site all day on Saturdays which is normally the only day of the week that we completely close. For residents who often enjoy being outside in the fresh air, having to remain in a confined space, and reduce their social face-to-face with friends, has been difficult, but we are all slowly getting used to it.

“All of our staff have gone out of their way to change systems and shifts so we can provide this continuous cover every minute of every day. We have a self-isolation room prepared but thankfully it is not yet in use as we do not have any confirmed cases and are working hard to keep it that way with stringent cleaning procedures.

“The help of our volunteers who have continued to come on site, has been amazing, and our thanks to each and every one of them for putting themselves out to help us at this time.

“Our support staff have been making contact with former residents via telephone to check that they are ok and coping with isolation. We are able to offer counselling, advice or just a listening ear.

“We have been having a daily conference catch up with other agencies, with the day centre kindly providing weekday lunch time meals for us, and also with the city council housing team. We are all trying our best to ensure that the known rough sleepers are being housed, and we are working hard with those still insisting on sleeping on the street to try and persuade them into accommodation. We are all sharing information, food and best practice, and working very closely together to ensure anyone without a home is provided with one during the pandemic.”

Despite the fantastic response, the nightshelter is still keen to hear from people willing to possibly help in the future.

Anyone eager to put themselves forward or find out more can email admin@wcns.org.uk.