Tower Hamlets homeless shelters seek 100 volunteers

Tower Hamlets homeless shelter. Pic: GrowTH

A community helping the homeless are looking for 100 volunteers as their shelters start to prepare for winter.

150 people are expected to stay in the shelters during the seven months, starting October 1. The search has already begun for extra voluntary help to keep vulnerable people safe through the cold months.

Matt Endersby, operations manager of GrowTH, the charity behind the shelter, said: “What we want to do as a partnership of churches is show love to people. We just want to do as much as possible for these people.

“Not only practically helping, but also inviting them into a community. A lot of the time, that will be through the churches, but also the [wider] community. We hope to bring people out of isolation. We just want to make people know they’re welcome.”

Tower Hamlets is one of the fastest growing local authorities in the UK, with its population expected to increase by 26 per cent between 2016 and 2026. This population increase also brings an increase of living costs, meaning there’s higher risks of becoming homeless. 

Since 2011, those who need placements in temporary accommodation have risen at twice the rate of those who are being accepted into shelters. In 2012, 156 people spent at least one-night rough sleeping and in 2017 it increased to 445 people, in Tower Hamlets alone.

GrowTH manages a small number of properties to provide short-term supported housing for those who are homeless. The goal is to help assist their guests from homelessness to more independent living. Each resident typically stays for 12 months and is given personalised support by the GrowTH staff team.

Between 2018-19 season, 139 men and women stayed in one of Tower Hamlets’ homeless shelters with 50 moving into more permanent accommodation, 41 assisted into further temporary accommodation, 3,075 bed spaces provided for guests and 6,150 hot meals given.

Previous GrowTH night shelter guests have shown their gratitude towards the support they received within the shelters.

One guest said: “[The volunteers] totally understand our needs… they were helpful and heart-warming.”

With 500 volunteers needed each season, GrowTH still need at least another 100 volunteers to sign up, despite the 400 hard workers who have volunteered their services through previous years.

The GrowTH shelters could not run without the hard work and determination of the hundreds of local volunteers who provide their time. Many of these volunteers come from local churches.

2019 marks the tenth year of GrowTH’s partnership with churches. They are now partnered with a total of 27 churches. Each church runs a shelter for the night. The churches offer help into secure accommodation and also give them directions towards other shelters.

GrowTH’s website says that for the tenth year running, churches in Tower Hamlets have been “working in unity” to carry out a mission. 

“Together we’ve been sharing God’s love in word and deed with our neighbours who don’t have a place to call home.”

Despite being a partnership of churches, the charity is open to people of all backgrounds. They are appreciative of anyone whom will offer their voluntary help to those in need of it.

For more information on shelters and volunteering, go to to apply.

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