What is Robes?
The Robes Project was set up in January 2007 to support homeless people by giving them a safe, warm place to sleep, a hot meal and support as they start to rebuild their lives. This is done by churches offering a temporary night shelter during the winter months from November to April of each year for 15-20 guests each night. Approximately 50 people are given support annually.
Robes is an ecumenical project working with homeless people in the two boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. During the winter months, a number of churches of all denominations provide overnight shelter on different nights, with an evening meal and breakfast for homeless people, run by local volunteers from all walks of life. The help does not stop here. Throughout the year there is a Wednesday Club providing lunch, facilities for entertainment, warmth, advice from professionals about housing, work, health and other issues. This advice service is a very important and integral part of the Robes’ work.
Volunteering for Robes at St Michael's Church
At St. Michael’s we provide shelter for fifteen carefully vetted homeless guests on Sunday nights. Volunteers sign up for shifts with our co-ordinators, to cook an evening meal (usually brought in from home), stay overnight with the guests, or provide them a cooked breakfast in the morning. Robes staff often come to join us on Monday morning to help with any issues or concerns that our guests may need guidance with.
Volunteering for Robes is an opportunity to meet our neighbours, mix with a very diverse and interesting group of people, and to give back in a very small way to the community. Those of us who have been volunteers for a number of years have always enjoyed “working” for this extremely worthwhile project. This year for the first time, we are providing shelter for ten weeks rather than eight, from January right through March, but it is seldom that a volunteer has to commit to more than one or two sessions, unless they wish to do so. Obviously people are not asked to sign up for all three session in one evening (ie. evening, night and morning!) so we need many hands to make light work.
Our dates for this winter will be announced in November. We are also looking for volunteers who can speak another language, in case we need interpreters for any of our guests.
Robes also runs annual fundraising events, the biggest of which is our Sleepout at Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, on the last Friday in November. Over the past four years this event has raised over £250,000 which has been crucial to the continuation of the vital work of Robes Project.
For more information about the Robes project, please go to www.robes.org.uk