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Generosity of locals heartens volunteers from winter night shelter The Well, at Baptist Church on Albert Street, Newark




The generosity of the town has amazed the team at Newark’s winter night shelter.

The Salvation Army, Newark Baptist Church, and Newark and Sherwood District Council joined forces to offer the shelter, known as The Well, at the Baptist Church on Albert Street, Newark.

The shelter has offered dozens of rough sleepers a warm, safe place to sleep for the night since the end of November.

Volunteers from left to right: Ricky Batesman, Paul Harness, community project manager Gareth Christie, Sara Brumhead of Newark Baptist Church and Maria Degiorgio.
Volunteers from left to right: Ricky Batesman, Paul Harness, community project manager Gareth Christie, Sara Brumhead of Newark Baptist Church and Maria Degiorgio.

Sara Brumhead, a leader at Newark Baptist Church, said: “It’s been exciting, challenging and time consuming all at once.”

In the first month of The Well’s opening, the team, staffed by volunteers from Churches Together and other organisations, saw 21 different individuals come through their doors, with an average of between six and ten people per night staying on the premises.

Sara said: “We have been surprised how many people in Newark need help and we have all sorts of people coming through the doors with more complex situations, such as drug users, people with mental health issues, or those coming out of prison.

Volunteer Sarah Hartley-Hill makes a cuppa for a guest.
Volunteer Sarah Hartley-Hill makes a cuppa for a guest.

“Our ultimate aim is to get people into permanent accommodation, or at least moved on to the next step to get them off the street ­— that’s our goal.”

A typical night for the volunteers sees four or five people working through the night in pairs in two or three-hour shifts, and taking it in turns to sleep.

Food and tea and coffee making facilities are prepared before The Well opens for guests at 9.30pm.

Doors close at 11pm to help keep disturbances for the sleeping guests to a minimum, with breakfast served from 6.30am onwards and guests are asked to make their way out at 8.30am.

Volunteer Ricky Batesman helps Gareth Christie make a bed.
Volunteer Ricky Batesman helps Gareth Christie make a bed.

The shelter also works with Impact drug and alcohol support group in Newark to try and help any guests with substance issues.

“As you would expect, most of our guests who come here just wanting somewhere to sleep, but we do get some coming in who will cause a bit of trouble,” Sara said.

“But none of our volunteers are ever on their own and we keep each other safe. Newark Police have also been in touch and told us how to contact them if we need them.”

From left to right: Sarah Hartley-Hill, Paul Harness, Ricky Batesman, Kayleigh Boulton and Sara Brumhead.
From left to right: Sarah Hartley-Hill, Paul Harness, Ricky Batesman, Kayleigh Boulton and Sara Brumhead.

Since the Advertiser ran the initial story about the launch of the shelter at the end of November, Sara said the response had been phenomenal with dozens of people came forward offering to volunteer for The Well, taking the number of volunteers to more than 50.

One of the volunteers is 22-year-old Kayleigh Boulton, who worked her first shift at the shelter just before Christmas.

A warm welcome from volunteer Ricky Batesman, community project manager Gareth Christie and Sara Brumhead.
A warm welcome from volunteer Ricky Batesman, community project manager Gareth Christie and Sara Brumhead.

She said: “I have helped out with a charity in Lincoln giving out food, but they have so many volunteers I came here where help was needed.

“I really enjoy the interaction with people and getting to know everyone.”

Sara said the generosity of the community had been really heartening for the team.

On one particular night shift, a volunteer came in with bags full of boxes of tea bags, biscuits, coffee, hot chocolate and breakfast items, which had been donated following an appeal on Facebook.

Boxes of takeaway Indian food were also donated on the same night, complete with rice, poppadoms and even banana custard desserts.

“People have been so generous giving us things we need. We have now got more than enough coats, sleeping bags and bedding, and have even been given a new washing machine and dryer so we can wash our beddings and guests’ clothes,” Sara said.

The Well is in need of washing tablets and fabric conditioner, as well as men’s size eight, nine and ten shoes.

Monetary donations to keep the shelter well stocked with supplies are also always gratefully received.

Donations can be dropped off at the Baptist Church between 9.30am and 11.30am on Wednesdays, Thursday mornings from 7am, and during the shelter’s opening hours.

Anyone interested in volunteering for The Well should contact Cheska Asman at the district council on 01636 650000.

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