Croydon Nightwatch, the borough’s longest-established homelessness charity, has put out an emergency appeal for extra volunteers during the coronavirus crisis, to help maintain their nightly soup kitchen in Queen’s Gardens and other services for the homeless and working poor.
In a message to their supporters and donors this week, Nightwatch said, “Nightwatch is facing particular challenges over the covid-19 epidemic because many of our volunteers are over 70 or have underlying medical conditions and are being advised to self-isolate.
“This puts more pressure on the rest of us to provide our essential service for the homeless and other vulnerable people in Croydon we support.”
And Jad Adams, the charity’s chair, told Inside Croydon that Nightwatch is trying to take up some of the slack as other volunteer groups are forced to shut down their operations because of the quarantine period: “We expect to see more people referred from other services as they are closed down. The Link at Croydon United Reformed Church told me this week that they will stop serving a meal on Thursday nights and they will refer callers to Nightwatch. I think other church-based services for the homeless will cease if the churches themselves are closed. Night shelters can’t be run.
“We are still there at 9.30pm every night at the Queen’s Gardens outside the Town Hall. Vounteers always have access to hand sanitiser and gloves for preparing food, though these are getting in short supply at the moment, and we are asking volunteers to use gloves for food distribution. We are obtaining masks,” Adams said.
Nightwatch’s urgent appeal states: “Now is the time to invite your friends and family members, people you know from work and from faith or social groups to come and help us if they are under 70 and fit. Please let Cindee, our volunteers co-ordinator, know if you can bring someone else along, even if for only one or two nights.
“Everyone who has ever expressed an interest in Nightwatch – now we need you.
“The best way to approach this or any crisis is to stay firm and focused on the job to which we are already committed. To repeat the slogan: keep calm and carry on. The people we support rely on us to a greater degree now there are few other sources of food. Thank you for continuing to volunteer.”
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