Where does the time go? I seems only minutes ago where I was watching the Christmas Elf climbing through the garage window to rescue Christmas lunch. A mince pie, a Christmas Dinner, another mince pie, New Year’s Eve, mince pie (not again!), New Year’s Day power cut, a cup of tea – ooh nice, don’t mind if I do and all of a sudden, it’s the 9th January!!

Well, the decorations are down. We stuck with tradition and waited until 12th night to remove the tinsel and other shiny things. We had to coax Rusel down from the top of the tree where he had taken to hiding when the mince pies were brought out. We had rather a lot of them donated this year and whilst we are always, always grateful for your donations – even the residents are beginning to disappear quickly and quietly when they spot the familiar boxes being brought out from the larder! Anyway, I have an idea – I’m going to paint them in edible paint and hide them around the Shelter – we can have an Easter (mince) pie hunt!! Good eh? What can I say? – I’m from Yorkshire. Nothing goes to waste if I can help it!!

Talking of donations, we have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Colchester and beyond. Not only because of your donations, but also with your offers of your time to help out over Christmas. It’s a really humbling experience working at the Nightshelter. Not only because we are helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community, but also because we are reminded every day that we are in your thoughts and you truly want to help.

Lots of very useful things have been donated. The reverse Advent Calendar has worked really well and we received lots of warm hats, gloves, scarves, warm clothing and beautifully wrapped presents. We have also had a lot of other useful stuff given which will save us so much money in the coming year. Items such as washing tablets; shampoo; deodorant; toothpaste; toothbrushes; razors. Even bin bags and washing up liquid have all been gratefully received and put to good use. I know, I know.  You are thinking – “well how boring – washing up liquid”??  Well, we get through a large bottle every two days. Washing tablets? Again about a box every two days. Your donations are saving us – at the very least – £700+ a year. This is huge saving for our little Charity. I cannot begin to explain how it feels, when we take in someone who has been rough sleeping for some time and we give them clean bedding, clean towels and a basic toiletry pack of shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razor. That they can finally get clean and gain back the first beginnings of self esteem is a very positive first step.

I have to say, though that we have had our share of – how to put this politely? “Strange” is possibly the best way of describing a bag of clothes for a small child donated to us – including a school skirt for a child age 7. We put all clothes donations on a table so that our guys can have a look through and find things to fit. We sometimes don’t have time to sort through first – especially at Christmas when donations were coming in thick and fast – the doorbell seemed to be on constant ring! The skirt ended up being worn as a hat for a while, until we removed it from the table. We did phone the Women’s refuge to see if they could use this donation, but they were choc-a-bloc too!

Can you guess what my next topic is going to be? Yes! Donations!! Please, please do not think that we are being ungrateful for anything donated, however please, please can we ask that you think before you donate.  We have very limited storage space – in fact we have none. We did have one cupboard, but Rusel has taken it over with computer monitors (he gets away with all sorts). I tell you what – if I give you a list of what we are always in need of, will you promise to only donate those things to make life easier for us?

Clean polyester SINGLE duvets in good repair

Clean Polyester pillows in good repair

Single duvet covers

Single sheets

Pillow cases

Toiletries – deodorant; shower gel; razors

Washing tablets; washing up liquid

New socks and underwear

New or in good condition T shirts

New or in good condition Trousers – jeans, etc

Warm coats

Slightly worn shoes/boots

Fleece jackets

Unfortunately, we cannot accept anything with feathers in it as it simply cannot be washed. So feather duvets, pillows and any clothing has to go straight to recycling. For us to do this takes our valuable time away from supporting our service users, so we would appreciate it if you did this yourselves.

I’m going to stop rambling on now. I am sure you have had enough of me. I just want to say again a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who donated gifts or their time to Colchester Night Shelter over Christmas. Without you, we would not have had such a wonderful, well fed, stress free, warm hands and feet time. xxxx





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