What We Do
 
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How It All Began

The WNSMK began as a response to urgent need when, during the severe winter of 2010, Milton Keynes Council became aware of a number of homeless people sleeping in bin stores and such places in central Milton Keynes, despite freezing temperatures and thick snow on the ground.

At the time the YMCA was the only viable option for many, and with their beds full a new solution was needed. A conference brought together people from various interested agencies to discuss the issue, and the concept of the Winter Night Shelter MK was born.

Last Winter (2017-18)

Over this winter there were an estimated 130 rough sleepers on the streets of Milton Keynes.* The WNSMK helped these people in the following ways:

Meals Served Plus

Volunteers plus

people accommodated (58 men and 11 women)

guests assisted to move on to longer term accommodation

occupied beds across 14 different venues

guests successfully assisted to find employment opportunities

*Milton Keynes Homelessness Partnership Strategic Review, 18 December 2017.
What We Do:

Rebuilding Lives

We support the homeless, vulnerable and those with mental health struggles in Milton Keynes by providing:

  • temporary emergency accommodation (November–March)
  • a dedicated welfare team providing year-round support
  • access to showers and washing/drying facilities
  • links to support agencies
  • advice and support to find permanent accommodation
  • pathways to employment.

During the winter months our guests are invited to arrive at our friendly reception café from 5.30pm, seven days a week. They will be welcomed by our welfare team and have time to settle in, sort and store their belongings, have hot drinks and snacks, and relax.

Around 7.15pm guests will be transported to an overnight venue, of which there are 14 across the city (two per night of the week). There they will be greeted by a team of trained volunteers who provide a hot meal, company and support, opportunities to relax and play games, and a warm bed for the night. In the morning guests are provided with breakfast and transported back to the reception café.

Unity Park Station (formerly the Old Bus Station) on Elder Gate now provides a year-round base for our welfare team and hosts an array of essential support services from partner organisations, including:

  • legal and housing advice
  • on-site addiction support
  • access to food and clothing aid
  • assistance obtaining ID and accessing bank accounts
  • help with accommodation and employment applications
  • life skills and employment skills training
  • homelessness prevention initiatives.

Ultimately we help our guests into more settled accommodation and support them to rebuild their lives. This might be through working with the Council, referrals to the YMCA, private accommodation, housing schemes, the Bus Shelter MK or long-term community living options such as Emmaus.

We have a number of former guests who say they owe their lives to the Winter Night Shelter, and some have returned to volunteer to help others.

Everyone has their own story…

Story 5

“When you’re on the streets it’s very, very tough on you physically and mentally, and by the time you arrive somewhere like here, where you feel safe, that is like a godsend.”

WNS Guest, 2018

story 4

“If it wasn’t for the Winter Night Shelter I can honestly say, hand on heart, I don’t think I would be here, honestly I don’t. You probably would have found me in some gutter somewhere, and that’s the honest truth.”

WNS Guest, 2018

Story 3

“I feel very strongly that if I get back on my feet I would want to put something back to the WNS. I would want to be a volunteer or something.”

WNS Guest, 2018

Story 2

“One of the ways the WNS is helping me is giving me hope in something, I lost faith in everything in prison and now I’m starting to get a taste of it again.”

WNS Guest, 2018

story one

“It has a massive impact on my life, without it I’d be in some dangerous positions. The WNS offers me refuge and takes me away from a lot of dangers.”

WNS Guest, 2018

Reception café and base for daytime support services:
Unity Park Station (formerly The Old Bus Station), 401 Elder Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 1LR.

Registered office:
The Ridgeway Centre, Featherstone Road, Wolverton Mill South, Milton Keynes, MK12 5TH.

Charity Reference No. 1149480
Registered Company No. 08232340