Our response to COVID-19

Because of the Covid-19 lockdown many UK services for the homeless have had to find new ways of operating to protect the health of their guests, volunteers and staff.

Since the beginning of March the Open Door charity has been working with other organisations in St Albans to co-ordinate the provision of food and accommodation in new ways.

The Charity is liaising closely with St Albans City and District Council, Hightown Housing Association, and several local charities – including Centre 33, Vineyard (FEED) and Druglink. At the beginning of lockdown, all homeless people who accepted an offer of accommodation were housed, including those who had been accessing our Winter Beds provision. Since then we have been working together to provide food wherever needed and to support those who remain vulnerable or are newly homeless.

Kerry Pollard, Open Door’s chairman, commented:

“Thanks to the ongoing support of our dedicated volunteers, we’ve been able to maintain essential services to homeless people in St Albans at this difficult time.”

Sarah Chambers, Open Door’s volunteer & fundraising co-ordinator, added:

“Throughout Lockdown we have provided meals every evening, prepared by volunteers and local businesses. We have had teams of volunteers who have distributed food parcels every week to those in need.

Lockdown forced us to find new ways of volunteering and adapt very quickly. Volunteers were phenomenal, and stepped up to the challenge, accommodating the constant changes that came their way. We are beyond grateful to all our volunteers who enabled us to continue supporting the most vulnerable in the community.”

Councillor Jacqui Taylor has praised as “outstanding” the way volunteers have come together to help keep rough sleepers safe and well fed during the Covid-19 crisis.

Jacqui has asked local people to consider making a donation to Open Door to enable them to continue their vital work.

During lockdown, Hightown Housing Association provided round-the-clock support and the night shelter remained open 24/7.

Lunch and an evening meal continue to be available for the most vulnerable. This includes Centre 33 guests.

St Saviour’s Church provided Open Door and Centre 33 with kitchen space where volunteers from both charities have been able to prepare food safely.

Open Door is welcoming food donations from the general public for the lunchtime drop-in service.

If you would like to donate food, please email info@opendoorstalbans.org.

We are working towards a ‘new normal’ of volunteering activities. Safety of our guests, staff and volunteers are paramount. Understandably, a number of our volunteers have had to stand down during the current health risks, and we urgently need to expand our team.

If you would like to join our team of volunteers please get in touch through the charity website or the volunteer coordinator info@opendoorstalbans.org. We are always in need of volunteers particularly in the evenings to help prepare food.