Changes to our response to the Coronavirus (Covid 19)
Our four sessions per week remain at three. These take place at the usual times and we have now returned to outside the St. John's Parish Rooms, which is where the guests come to. However, at the moment we are only serving hot food, takeaway food items and offering clothing, primarily for homeless people. This new scheme started on 28th August and will run through to the end of September. We have stuck with our usual days: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Each session runs like this: two people cook on their own in St. John's kitchen. It is then delivered outside, where other staff and volunteers help with the distribution of the food, laundry tickets and post and also helps to maintain the 2 metre social distancing rule. Foodbank referral forms are also made available. Conversations about clothing, benefits and housing needs take place. Turning Point staff also attend every Wednesday, with their van being parked in the Devizes Museum car park..
Volunteers who are prepared to be involved in this way have already been contacted but we are also looking for some new volunteers. If more people become homeless (for whatever reason) they could 'replace' those who have recently moved on to better things.
We will continue to keep the Rough Sleepers team at County Hall informed of those we know who 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?).
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 Autumn 2020 Volunteer Newsletter.
A series of articles about those who access Opendoors services, and those who provide them.
This month a very big THANK YOU goes to Nicola Sage, who previously came to our assistance when we had large quantities of clothing that needed to be moved on, for organising a boules match, with the proceeds coming to us. See details below - download poster here.
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