Our Mission

Our objectives, and the staff positions at the Shelter.

“I have found the staff at the Shelter to be really supportive and helpful. If you have any problems they will help you in any way they can, and they will get you professional help if this is required.”


Resident, Colchester Night Shelter

The Project

First and foremost, our aim is to provide emergency accommodation to those who are homeless and provide support to those caught in the “revolving door” of long term homelessness. Through the years we have developed the project to be able to support more people; either by simply providing more space, or through more complex methods such as:

Employing an Accommodation and Welfare officer, whose sole responsibility is to provide support, advice and aid in finding suitable accommodation for the residents done on a client-by-client basis to make sure that the support offered reflects their specific needs and relative circumstances.

Employing a Personal Development officer, who provides development of certain skills through courses that run during the week that assists in things such as CV writing, job seeking, searching for properties and more.

Employing a Tenancy Sustainment officer whose role is to support our ex-clients (that engage with the service during their stay) in their new properties to combat repeat homelessness. This, and the development of the project and building as a whole, ensures that we are providing the best possible support we can.

Due to the Welfare Reform and changes to funding avenues, money is becoming tighter and tighter. Through careful planning, we are making sure that we can budget accordingly to run the service as well as looking into expansion through different avenues. For example, the Tenancy Sustainment post is funded by Colchester Borough Council through their Homeless Prevention Fund, which is re applied for annually. Funding bids are a crucial part of our income, and all development relies on them, as well as donations.

How can I help?

Interested in Volunteering at the Night Shelter?
Learn More.

Please see below for short statements from the Staff in regards to their different positions at the project.

Marina Woodrow - Manager

Our client group is a difficult one and there are a whole range of complex and overlapping reasons as to why they are homeless.  They face a number of issues in addition to, but often compounded by, their situation. These issues can include Addiction problems, Mental Health issues, Offending history and often a combination which are difficult to address and support. The isolation and destructive nature of homelessness means that people find it difficult to access the help they need. This is where the Night Shelter plays an integral part in the transition from homelessness to eventual independent living with the Night Shelter staff continuing to support the client for as long as they are in need of assistance.

We prepare our clients to succeed in securing and maintaining permanent housing  by understanding and acknowledging the impact of homelessness on permanent housing placement and identifying the transitional goals and working with them intensively to meet those before they are moved into their accommodation.

Project Worker

The main purpose of a Project Worker is to run the Nightshelter of an evening, when the clients use the services. This includes being sure that every resident is adhering to the rules of no Alcohol or Drugs to be consumed on the premises, nor under the influence of either upon admission. This prevents both the residents reverting back to previous addictions and to keep the atmosphere as harmonious as possible. We also ensure that each individual client of the project pays their Service Charges to give each person an amount of financial responsibility and help cover a small portion of the Nightshelters overhead running costs. Lastly, and more prominently, is to be a kind, empathetic, sensitive ear for when ever needed, and in such cases to advise and signpost the clients to any relevant agencies and projects to assist with their personal needs and retrospective circumstances.

Sylvia Jeffcock - Personal Development Worker

Many of the residents staying at the Night Shelter have had problems which have contributed to them becoming homeless. Our aim is to ensure that all residents are offered support to identify and address these issues and gain the social skills necessary to maintain their own tenancy once they leave the Night Shelter. We work with clients to develop an action plan which identifies their issues and includes specific objectives to meet their goals. As well as helping people to access outside agencies such as health in mind or Adult Community Learning we run a number of activities at the Night Shelter.

We offer help with job hunting, support with recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, help with budgeting, opportunities to volunteer and practical activities such as cooking.

We run a regular Work Club which meets on Friday mornings. We offer support with job hunting including IT training, help with CV’s and online applications and opportunities to study for qualifications in subjects such as First Aid or Health & Safety. We can also use specialist software to identify possible areas of work and find suitable training opportunities.

We encourage residents to consider volunteering as a way of creatively using their time and building up their experience. We offer opportunities for volunteering placement which meets their interests.

As well as our regular activities we have a range of courses offered by outside agencies such as confidence building, anger management or using social media. We want to ensure that everybody who stays at the Night Shelter has a positive experience and is able to improve their skills.

Rusel Broadway - Tenancy Sustainment Officer
As the tenancy sustainment officer my role is to work with clients whilst they are at the shelter and help them prepare for independent living in a place of their own, this can be by supporting them to re-engage with family and old friends, helping them learn new personal skills, their education and training options, attending meetings and appointments, addressing drug or alcohol issues, and signposting clients to other agencies or services that may be able to help them. Once clients have left the night shelter, either with or without the assistance of the Resettlement Officer, I will continue to support them with their day to day living, their budgeting, and help them to maintain their tenancy, independence, and wellbeing. We will continue to support clients for as long as they need our help and support. My primary role, once a client is living independently, is to help them ensure that they keep their new home for the long term and break the cycle of homelessness that many find themselves trapped in.
Lynn Meadow - Housing Manager

I was very pleased to be chosen as the new Housing Manager at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. My role is not only to work with our existing landlords who do such a great job of housing our residents, but also to attract more landlords willing to accommodate our residents through the CENS resettlement programme – Keys for Keeps. We assess prospective tenants very carefully, ensuring they are suitable for a property – and also that the property is suitable for them, before making any formal arrangements.

I love the vibrant environment of CENS and the positivity and motivation of our team and volunteers. We really are a close knit group and our common aim is to assist our residents to prepare for independent living.

With increasing welfare cuts, we find many landlords unwilling or financially unable to offer accommodation to someone reliant on benefits, however the tenancy support we offer, along with an excellent working relationship with welfare benefit providers means that our residents are in an ideal place to shift seamlessly into independent living with the full support of CENS.

I look forward to developing a good working relationship with landlords to allow us to rehouse our residents, thereby freeing up the valuable bed spaces at CENS.

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