The important work of the Eastbourne Night Shelter

Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne
Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne

Kindness is a human characteristic which the media tends not to spend much time talking about. In fact we often hear that bad or negative news sells whether it’s about a particular event or issue, or even a gritty TV drama; and that may well be true.

However this doesn’t take away the fact that kindness to another is one of the most important glues which hold our societies together.

Be it locally, nationally or even globally - kind acts quite simply make the world a better place, for all of us.

I was reminded of that on one of my constituency visits this week, to the Eastbourne Winter Night Shelter. This is a project which has been running for eight years now, coordinated by the Kingdom Way Trust and operating out of the premises of local churches.

Their purpose is to offer a hot meal and warm, clean bed to members of the street community. The work they do is impressive enough but what also struck me was the sheer kindness of the volunteers, and the numbers of them!

More than 250 people from around 30 Churches operate seven nights a week (including Christmas) using a rota of a different Church Hall every day.

My visit was to the night shelter at St Mary’s Church in Old Town, and I was tremendously impressed.

Arriving early before the guests so I could get a clear picture of what is provided, the word which kept going through my mind was, as I’ve alluded to at the beginning of this article, kindness.

Not that it was worn on anyone’s sleeve. These were just good people trying to do their level best to make life a little better for those less fortunate than themselves. It was a privilege to meet them all.

Later I spoke and listened to each of the 12 guests who arrived that night. Some I recognised from casework I’d already done, others were newer to the area. All though were quietly grateful for what the night shelter was providing.

The reasons why their lives had reached such a desperate state were as you’d probably imagine; leaving prison with nowhere secure to go, drug and alcohol problems, mental health issues, family break-ups etc.

All were a reminder of just how fragile our own lives can be.

I pay tribute to the Kingdom Way Trust for what they do.

If you’d like to know more about them and perhaps consider volunteering yourself, details can be found online at: http://www.winternightshelter.com

I’d also like to give a shout-out to a couple of local businesses who are long-term supporters of the Winter Night Shelter.

Firstly that well-established laundry service on Seaside, Iron Maidens.

They have for many years now been providing washed and clean bedding for the whole enterprise week in week out, and doing so completely free of charge.

This is incredibly generous under any circumstances but particularly for a small business which can hardly have a vast turnover. Thank you.

The other is Greggs Bakery. At the end of every day they contribute any perishable food which hasn’t been sold, which makes a substantial difference in the charity’s running costs. Such generosity from both is, I know, enormously appreciated by the volunteers and, it goes without saying, the guests.

Please do pop in to either or both of these shops if you have time in the coming weeks to show your appreciation.

I certainly will.

And not forgetting the kindness shown by our local churches.

Nine of them take turns in running the Night Shelter and thirty across Eastbourne and Willingdon contribute in other ways.

You are all a living embodiment of Christ’s teachings, and as the town’s MP I am deeply grateful. I’m also well aware it’s just a tip of the iceberg of all the other fine work you do across our community.

When I was a child, my mother used to occasionally use a phrase; “you keep what you have by giving it away.”

To be honest I didn’t have a clue what she meant at the time although, as you do as a kid, would nod sagely and say “yes mum.”

Thankfully for some time now I do understand and try, with varying degrees of success or failure, to live by that credo.

On Wednesday night though I saw its living embodiment at the Eastbourne Winter Night Shelter, in St Mary’s Church Hall, Old Town.

That’s is folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.