Our response to the Coronavirus (Covid 19)
Before Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday evening (23rd March), we had already taken the decision to close this week. We now do not plan to operate from St. John's parish rooms for the foreseeable future.
However, we want to be clear on, who amongst our guests, can't go to the shops, prepare meals or have them prepared for them. We think there are just four or five in this category. We plan to set up a scheme that sees individual volunteer cooks preparing meals at their homes for these few. These meals could then be delivered by individual volunteers to previously agreed locations. A clear set of protective guidelines would need to be followed.This scheme should start on 3rd April.
Volunteers who are prepared to be involved in this way have already been contacted. We are also looking to recruit some new volunteers. If this scheme can be made to work, it could be scaled up, so that if more people become homeless as a result of relationships breaking down in households, we can support them in this way. This contact will mean the ongoing need for accommodation can be talked about and steps taken.
We will continue to keep the Rough Sleepers team at County Hall informed of those we know are rough sleeping. County will continue to follow these up and hopefully provide suitable, if temporary, accommodation, especially in the case of those with underlying health issues (all of them?). It will be interesting to see if County can reach an agreement with hotels whereby empty hotel rooms become available for the homeless. We will be asking them about this in the next day or two.
What is Devizes Opendoors?
It is a charity that has been set up to help people in the Devizes Community Area to find solutions to homelessness; to offer support to local people when they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and to benefit local individuals in need, including the marginalised and vulnerable.
Opendoors exists 100% for the benefit of others, in particular those who are homeless or at risk of becoming so. For the last few years it has provided three cooked meals a week at St. John’s Parish Rooms, Long Street and there are about 15 – 20 people there at most sessions. Along with the good food and company there is the chance of a shower and a few other things (see Opening Times).
The guests are a mixture of rough sleepers, those sleeping in sheds, vans and old boats, sofa surfers and those with their own homes but with issues that can make their tenancies vulnerable.
The team has two paid staff, a coordinator and a deputy coordinator, and over 50 volunteers on a rota with 7 - 9 on per session. Together they prepare the food and the hall, welcome the guests and chat, serve meals and discuss issues in one-to-one conversations. Concerns that get followed up include health (mental and physical) issues, alcohol and drug dependency, criminal activity, financial matters and of course, housing issues.
Like to find out more about? Click to download our Winter 2019-2020 Volunteer Newsletter.
A series of articles about those who access Opendoors services, and those who provide them.
We are delighted to say that our quiz night raised a total of more than £300. Much needed funds for our coffers. Thanks very much for the time and effort put in by the organisers.
Opendoors Annual General Meeting
Our AGM this year will no longer take place on Thursday the 16th April 2020.
Existing trustees will meet by video-conferencing and new trustees will be appointed to replace two who are standing down (following the Constitution section 13.5).
Our Annual Sponsored Sleepout
took place on Sat 11 January to 8am Sun 12 January 2020
St. Mary’s Church - Devizes
Armed with sleeping bags, mats and thermal underwear, 16 participants arrived at St Mary’s, Devizes oldest church, for the annual Sleep Out event with an ambitious plan to double the amount raised last year of £1,390. Having totted up the numbers, it looks like we will smash through that goal, with pledges of £4,000.
Through their JustGiving page, two local 9 year old girls and a 14 year old raised £1050. Local Accountancy firm David Owen, who have made Opendoors their charity for 2020, raised £1800 on the night through two participants.
No Night Shelter in Devizes this Winter
Despite recent cold nights Devizes Opendoors trustees have decided not to open a trial night shelter during February and March. The plan had been to open at week-ends and during times when the temperature was forecast to be at or below freezing for three or more nights. However, trustees have just heard their application for a grant has not been successful. It is also now clear that some of those who have been sleeping rough have recently been helped to find accommodation in other towns by Wiltshire Council.
Be a Devizes Opendoors Befriender
Give a homeless person a hand up - not a handout
This autumn we are looking for people who can empathise and encourage.
We provide full training and you will join a supportive team of volunteer Befrienders.
Please click here to find out more, or contact John Saunders:
If you are homeless, know someone who is, or concerned about someone at risk of becoming homeless we might be able to help. Please call: 07493 825258
To speak to a member of the team during our regular opening times please call: 07722 096046