Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter
The Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter (ICCWS) is open each year January-March. Seven churches in Islington offer hospitality to homeless guests and support them in finding more permanent accommodation.
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 guest with 27 different nationalities being represented in 2019 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 move 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 you, and call the shelter on 07913020738.
St Peter De Beauvoir, De Beauvoir Square
St Gabriel's, Archway
Union Chapel, Highbury Corner
St Andrew's, Whitehall Park
St Luke's, Penn Road
St Augustine's, Highbury New Park
If you wish to donate, you can either visit our Just Giving page or send a cheque made payable to “CARIS Islington” and sent to the Treasurer at:
The CARIS Office
St Mellitus Church
London N4 3AG
Please note: If you want your donation to go to the Cold Weather Shelter project rather than to Caris as a whole, then please tell us.
The Cold Weather Shelter (CWS) project’s 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.