THE work of Winchester Churches Nightshelter has been celebrated at an annual meeting.

Supporters, staff and residents at Winchester Churches Nightshelter gathered for the charity’s AGM and supporters’ evening.

The event was opened by the nightshelter’s patron, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin.

The Bishop spoke of his motivations for supporting the charity: “It was a pleasure to be part of the Winchester Churches Nightshelter AGM and commend the work the dedicated staff and volunteer team do in lifting people out of homelessness. Listening to the experiences of former nightshelter residents was an important reminder to me of the common fragility we all share. We all need compassion as we face the trials of life. To value all people as loved by God enables us to recognise our common humanity and to work together to support those who have broken lives. The Nightshelter is a practical expression of this.”

The evening, on Wednesday November 13 at St Peter’s Pastoral Centre, focused on the theme of ‘Enabling Change’. Chief executive Michele Price spoke of the many ways in which the charity gives each resident the opportunity to make a change.

Two former residents who are using their lived experience to work as peer mentors with current residents then spoke openly of their own journeys. Anthony was just eleven when he was thrown out of home and begun, what would end up being many years, living on the streets. As he explained, it was his time at the nightshelter that ended up being a pivotal moment:

“The nightshelter provided me with everything I needed, the support and confidence to get clean which I have never been able to do before. I’ve been clean for two years and I am now a peer mentor, it is a job I really love, I do not have enough words to express how much this job means to me. I get to help people change.”

The nightshelter provides a safe and supportive place to stay for 17 residents every night of the year.