This winter Refettorio Felix is throwing open its doors even wider. Now, every Monday from 7 pm – 7 am it transforms into a night shelter, providing much needed respite from the cold for rough sleepers in the area. The centre has partnered with local homeless charity Glass Door, London’s largest open-access network of emergency winter shelters and support services for men and women affected by homelessness. Their vision is a world where no one has to sleep on the streets of London and they work hard every day to achieve this.
There is a natural synergy between the two charities as they share many of the same values, believing everyone has inherent dignity and all should be made to feel welcome. Both charities also share an open access policy and ask very few questions of their guests. It is also in major part thanks to the many volunteers who support both organisations that they can continue to provide shelter and support to those who need it most.
Refettorio Felix is one of two new partnering drop-in centres in and around the Kensington and Chelsea area to open this season. Every shelter circuit incorporates seven partners who take turns to host a shelter every night of the week. The opening this year of an additional fifth circuit is in direct response to an increase in demand for services. Last winter Glass Door experienced a 42% increase in demand for shelter. Now, with the help of Refettorio Felix, up to 38 people have an additional place to stay.
According to the latest figures from the Greater London Authority, almost 9,000 people are sleeping rough each night in London. Most of them are severely sleep deprived, which leads to chronic health problems, both mental and physical. So the combination of a good night’s sleep, a warm supper (with breakfast the following morning), in a welcoming and safe community space, is invaluable.
But it’s not just overnight respite that’s on offer. Glass Door caseworkers are now based here at the centre three days a week to work in tandem with our own resident professionals to help individuals find routes out of homelessness. The guests find having somewhere to go during the daytime crucial and the centre provides a much needed base where they can find not only advice, but can access the many other services we provide such as laundry, hot showers, clean clothes, internet access and more.
For anyone interested in supporting or volunteering at the overnight shelter please Join Sleep Out 2019.
Working with Glass Door has been a really exciting development in the Refettorio Felix story. Our aim has always been to provide a safe and welcoming environment allowing people to relax almost as if they were in their own home. To be able to extend that to overnight is a natural progression of our ethos and we look forward to working closely together with Glass Door to make this partnership a great success.