To All Our Colleagues, Supporters and Friends of the WYDAN Night Shelter,

Many of you will be wondering what’s happening to the Night Shelter during these extraordinary times, hence this update.  We hope that those of you who are Lead Volunteers will share it widely among your local supporters.

First to say that contrary to some rumours that are circulating, there are no plans to ‘wind-up’ the Night Shelter.

Currently, we are working closely and in partnership with Leeds City Council who are accommodating a number of our former guests and other destitute asylum seekers at Garforth House (Holbeck).  Our part in this is to provide appropriate food, a small weekly financial allowance and what emotional support we can.  This will continue for as long as the authorities are making this provision.  Currently we are supporting 13 men, all of whom are Covid free at present though struggling emotionally with the current restrictions and the (temporary) closure of most of their usual support networks.

We continue to be very grateful to you, our brilliant volunteers across the city for your ongoing support.  Various ‘roving’ volunteers, lead volunteers and their teams are providing and delivering the food, etc to our guests and many have been generous with financial support.  We have also been fortunate to receive significant financial support from the Church Homeless Trust to support this specific work.

Looking forward is difficult in these uncertain times, we don’t know what the future holds for hostel accommodation.  We would like to think that the council will be funded to provide decent accommodation for all homeless people including asylum seekers.  But we can’t count on this and Government policy is far from clear.  Our working assumption is that at some point our Night Shelter provision will be needed once again, so in order to be quick off the mark when that point is reached, we are working with a host organisation, with NACCOM and with the Council to see how we can adapt our Night Shelter provision to safely meet any new requirements.

Some of you will be aware that a group of our colleagues are in process of setting up a new charity, LEDAS, which will aim to provide more settled accommodation for destitute asylum seekers in houses, and are seeking support in that venture.  This initiative, which will increase the accommodation available for this group of people, is to be welcomed and may come to be seen as a positive development arising out of soul-searching that’s been accentuated by the current crisis.  However, we think it unlikely that there will not still be significant ongoing need for an emergency Night Shelter such as we have been able to provide over recent years.

We look forward to your continuing support, and will try to keep you abreast of developments,

Kind regards,

Andrew Rathbone (WYDAN Chair), Katrina Burton (Project Manager)
Fr Michael Wood, Jean Livesey, Keith Mollison and Ted Britton (members of the WYDAN Night Shelter Committee)