VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help make winter a little easier for those living on the streets of Wrexham.

The charity Housing Justice Cymru has teamed up with The Church in Wales to deliver a night shelter.

It will be able to accommodate up to ten people at a time and will be hosted at a different church venue each night.

Last year the organisers behind the scheme, which is supported by Wrexham Council, ran a pilot project over four weekends, followed by a ten week project earlier this year.

Now the team hopes to open the shelter once again to support people through the winter - but help is needed if the scheme is to open before the new year, as Sarah Wheat hopes it can.

Ms Wheat, of Church in Wales and Housing Justice Cymru, explained: “People are referred to us by Wrexham Council and they can come from all kinds of backgrounds.

“It could be their first night on the streets or their hundredth and their situations are so diverse.

“Some people are there because they have had a relationship breakdown, they lost their job, a family breakup. They’re from all educational backgrounds and we have had people before who were working but just needed that chance to find accommodation.

“They can stay with us for as long as the project is running or until they get accommodation. If they choose not to come back, another person is referred to us.

“We probably have about 240 trained volunteers on our books, but not everyone is able to offer more than the odd shift.

“We’re desperate for overnight volunteers and breakfast shift volunteers, as well as a minibus and drivers.

“We will have seven different church venues across Wrexham and the shelter will pop up at one of them each night.

“We pick up the guests and drive them to the venue but the volunteers will get it ready beforehand so that when they get there it is warm, inviting and there is a nice smell of dinner for them.

“If we can get enough volunteers and get everything in place, our aim is to open it on Boxing Day.”

The scheme aims to give its guests more than just the benefit of a roof over their heads and a place to get warm and dry.

Volunteers offer the guests company and conversation.

Ms Wheat continued: “We offer hospitality - we’re all about providing a welcome you would give to someone visiting your house.

“So we sit and eat a hot meal together every night. The volunteers genuinely care and want to help them and give them hope.”

The pilot scheme and the shelter hosted earlier this year saw great change for the guests who used it, she said.

“It creates a place where they aren’t in crisis,” Ms Wheat said.

“They physically change because they’re eating and put weight back on, they sleep better because they’re not freezing.”

Mel Morgan, from Caergwrle, volunteered last year and will be acting as a venue coordinator this year.

She said: “One guest told me three weeks in ‘you know Mel, this church thing saved my life’.

“I will never, ever forget that.

“I’d never volunteered in anything like this before and I think I was a little afraid of doing it wrong - but then I flipped it and thought how the guests must be feeling.

“It was like being round the table with my own sons. It was wonderful, heartwarming, priceless and I didn’t want the project to end.

“It is easy to judge and there’s a lot of ignorance around - people don’t stop to think perhaps these people weren’t drug addicts or alcoholics before they found themselves on the streets.”

Also returning to be a venue coordinator after volunteering last year is Sue Sawyer, from Nercwys.

She said: “I have always had a heart for homelessness. As a psychiatric nurse, quite often we’d have to write ‘of no fixed abode’. It started then.

“I did the night shift and they are hard, but they’re sleeping safe because you’re there.”

Asked what she’d tell prospective volunteers, Ms Morgan added: “Come along, find out more and let it change your life in the positive way it has changed mine.”

Mrs Sawyer agreed adding: “It turns an absolute negative into a positive - we had the chance to meet someone recently who had been on the project. He’d been homeless for a decade before the project, but he was unrecognisable and doing so well.”

Guests at the shelter receive three meals a day, fresh bedding daily and toiletries, with all of the church venues having wash facilities and one with a shower.

The project can also signpost guests to other organisations and services if they require other forms of support.

It is also supported by Wrexham Foodbank. In addition to volunteer hours, financial donations are welcome.

The next volunteer training session is on Monday, December 9 (2pm to 4.30pm or 7pm to 9.30pm) at St John’s Church in Rhosnesni (LL12 7YF).

If people would like to make a financial donation, people can email Sarah Wheat for details at wrexham@housingjustice.org.uk

To book onto the training email Ms Wheat at the address above or call/text 07909257899.