Kings Lynn Winter Night Shelter

Staff wave from windows of the Kings Lynn Winter Night shelter

A new(ish) Night Shelter

Kings Lynn Winter Night Shelter started as a pilot project in 2017. Proving highly successful, it was established as a charity in its own right the following year. It operates 7 nights a week between October and March and provides for between 70 and 100 guests a year. The shelter provides food and overnight accommodation to some of the most vulnerable homeless people, including those who are suffering from mental health problems, substance abuse or those who have been evicted. Where needed, guests are signposted to other specialist services.

When the pandemic struck in March 2020, the Winter Night Shelter had wound down for the season and its guests had been relocated to private rooms by the government’s ‘Everyone in’ scheme. This gave the shelter time to renovate a new building they had acquired that could be operated in a Covid-secure manner. This, however, proved more expensive than originally envisioned and quickly depleted their remaining reserves.

Acting quickly, the Night Shelter was able to benefit from several Norfolk Community Foundation grants in 2020. The grants paid for a whole host of essential improvements: bedrooms were subdivided, three new showers were installed, fire safety measures were improved, and the building was rewired, repainted and redecorated. This ensured Covid-secure accommodation was available for winter 2020/2021.

The service was stretched again when it became clear that 24h opening was to be required by the government, with the shelter only having a few hours to prepare. Thanks to their dedicated volunteers, the Shelter was able to meet this demand and continue to support highly vulnerable people full-time.

The existence of the Night Shelter continues to be of enormous benefit to the people who come to stay. 70 guests made use of the night shelter in winter 2020/2021. The Police’s Chief Inspector for this area of Norfolk wrote, “King’s Lynn and the wider Borough are hugely fortunate to have such a progressive shelter, and Norfolk Constabulary have seen the benefits at first hand”.

A stud wall in secured in place at the night shelter
Renovation begins

Tomass’ Story

Two people shaking hands

“Tomass* was a guest at the Night Shelter during early 2021, the fourth winter he had stayed with the shelter. Following our closure in March 2020 he had been given temporary accommodation in a flat by the local authority. After suffering a fall where he fractured his skull and spine, his temporary accommodation was withdrawn.

Tomass was discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve and was referred to the Night Shelter. His accident had left him with a number of ongoing health concerns. He had very little English so found it very difficult to understand and keep track of hospital correspondence.
The Night Shelter provided 24-hour accommodation and meals so that he was comfortable and his physical needs were met. Staff were able to facilitate online appointments and to put him in touch with Access Migrant Support to translate his letters.

Tomass was offered move-on accommodation by the Borough Council and moved into his own flat shortly before Easter. The English words he knew best were “Thank you” and he said them often: the Night Shelter are grateful for the support which makes this service to him and others like him possible.”

(*Name changed for privacy)

Find out more about Kings Lynn Winter Night Shelter: