CARIS Islington

Cold Weather Shelter 2021

Cold Weather Shelter Update - November 21
It is with great regret that CARIS Islington has come to the conclusion that we are unable to run the Cold Weather Shelter in our churches this winter. Other London boroughs have taken a similar decision, have moved to a single fixed location, or are looking to implement alternative arrangements. We know many of you will share the same disappointment we feel over this decision.

In previous years prior to the pandemic, seven churches supported by hundreds of volunteer workers participated in a rota offering guests accommodation overnight for one night each week. The Church space is often multi-use and used on other evenings of the week for church and community activities. Sadly, the challenges of maintaining safety requirements surrounding Covid to keep guests and volunteers safe goes against many of the strengths of our current Cold Weather Shelter model. Coupled with this, there are financial challenges for CARIS as there are for many organisations following the pandemic, which means we are unable to invest in infrastructure for the shelters to operate safely this year.

We are now consulting with other bodies to explore different ways we can support those who find themselves homeless in Islington. We will keep you informed of any possibilities. We very much hope that the suspension of the Cold Weather Shelter this year is a temporary necessity and that we can resume the Shelter programme in 2023.

Thank you all for your support of the Cold Weather Shelter scheme over the years. We very much hope we can work with you again in the near future.

If you are homeless and require support
In the first instance please contact Islington Council for advice and practical support. The council manages referrals to homeless shelters in Islington and will assess your requirements to build a solution that meets your needs.

Homeless Links
There are many services to help the homeless in Islington Islington Housing
Find out more Homeless in England

If you would like to volunteer for our cold weather shelter in the future please email the team on

About the Night Shelter

The Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter is open each year January-March. Seven churches in Islington offer hospitality to homeless guests and support them in finding more permanent accommodation.

Please contact the Cold Weather Shelter Team on

<big>Night Shelter</big>. St Augustine beds 2019

The cold weather shelter is a CARIS Islington project which runs through the coldest months of the year, is staffed by volunteers from the community and helps to provide shelter and hospitality for over 60 guests each year.

Islington, in spite of its fashionable image has areas of profound urban deprivation. It is the 24th poorest borough in the UK, [according to the most recent Multiple Deprivation index] scores low on life expectancy for men compared with other boroughs in London and high on suicide rates and depression. Many of our guests have alcohol or drug problems, are ex-offenders, or have mental health issues. Additionally, Islington is the most densely populated local authority area in England and Wales, with 15,524 people per square km. This is almost triple the London average and more than 37 times the national average. Islington is the second smallest borough in London covering 14.86 km squared. It is clear that there is an extreme strain on housing resources within the borough.

Our guests are referred to us via referring agencies, the majority of whom are specialist homeless support organisations. We enjoy an extremely diverse cross-section of guests with 27 different nationalities being represented in 2019-20 with an age range from 18 to 75 years old. Reflective of the homeless population as a whole, our guests found themselves homeless due to a variety of reasons, the most common being relationship breakdown, job loss, mental health issues or substance abuse. One of our main priorities is to ensure that our guests do not return to the streets following their time at the shelter. This year, 76% of our guests moved into alternative accommodation; this includes the private rental sector, supported housing, hostels, other shelter projects or staying with friends. (Figures from the 2019 season).

Although the CWS project is not set up to provide accommodation for the street homeless and vulnerably housed, its purpose is to provide hospitality in a time when it is most needed, and to help signpost guests, where possible, towards other organisations who may be able to provide the appropriate levels of support.

Without the work of over 600 volunteers every year, it would not be possible to provide this invaluable service. If you would like to get involved, please see the list of churches below for a shelter that would be convenient for yo, and call the shelter line on 07913020738. This number is only active during the winter season.

St Peter De Beauvoir, De Beauvoir Square
St Gabriel's, Archway
Union Chapel, Highbury Corner
St Andrew's, Whitehall Park
Christchurch, Highbury
St Luke's, Penn Road
St Augustine's, Highbury New Park

<big>Night Shelter</big>. CWS Shelter Operation

How it Operates

The Cold Weather Shelter (CWS) project participating churches each open their doors on a designated night of the week during the cold weather months of January, February and March. For a breakdown of how the project operates, along with a sample timetable, please click on the adjacent PDF.

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