About the Organisation
Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter (FCENS) is an independent charity working to serve the needs of the homeless in Waltham Forest. Our goal is that no one should have to sleep rough in our borough and everyone has a place to go. Our core purpose is about saving and transforming the lives of the homeless in our borough.
In September 2009 the only hostel in the borough which provided a service for rough sleepers closed for a yearlong refurbishment programme. As a result, this left a gap in the provision of services for these individuals. Churches in Waltham Forest mobilised to fill that gap. We opened for just 3 months. That winter, the coldest on record, saw 130 people using the shelter. In 2011 we registered as a Charity under the name Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter.
In the past we have provided a rolling night shelter with up to 30 bed spaces every night from 1 November to 31 March – guests sleep at a different church venue each night. Since the Covid-19 pandemic we have been providing emergency accommodation to our guests at a hotel, and providing the guests with casework support and all their meals.
We work with a large volunteer team who cook, serve and sit with our homeless guests who come to us for accommodation, food and friendly company. When temperatures drop below freezing, we take in all that come to us, as long as it is safe to do so. We believe in providing a high quality and compassionate service to our homeless guests many of whom have a range of support needs, such as alcohol dependency and mental health issues.
The Charity has knowledge, experience, and skills in the local community. We work alongside the local Council and its services. In a typical season we will accommodate around 100-150 guests over the winter period.
Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter (FCENS) are seeking new premises to house an emergency shelter and drop-in centre for homeless people in Waltham Forest.
The Charity has received revenue funding from the government’s Homeless Shelters Transformation fund up to 2025 and will apply for capital funding once a premises is located, enabling them to determine their budget depending on the building and funding available.
They would be grateful for pro bono support with their property search to help them identify suitable premises with the potential to deliver the following requirements:
A single premises in Waltham Forest to accomodate 10-15 guests in single rooms.
- Suitable toilet and bathroom facilities (shared or en suite).
- A communal space to be a drop-in centre during the day and eating space in the evening, with a commercial kitchen.
- Ideally with a medium-term lease available.
The Charity has engaged with Waltham Forest Council to search for a suitable facility. Pressure on local services and housing is high, meaning the council has not yet been able to provide a building. The Charity is therefore actively engaging with all sectors for a premises.
ASAP – the charity needs to be ready to submit capital funding applications in April 2023.