We decided to change the name of the shelter because ‘Colchester Emergency Night Shelter’ no longer truly represented what we offer here at CENS.
For a start, we are now open for longer hours, so our residents spend much less time on the streets, and on weekends we are now open 24 hours. Furthermore, we have the ability and capacity in the future, to offer training, treatments, counselling and activities throughout daytime hours when we are open and this is something we are looking forward to developing as time goes on.
Our new name, Colchester Engagement & Next Steps, represents what we are looking to achieve with our ongoing work within the homeless community. Our aim has always been to engage with our residents on a personal level in order to understand how we can help break the cycle of homelessness – every resident is an individual, with different needs, issues, backgrounds and aims, so it is only by taking the time to truly understand each person, that we can offer tailored, relevant support in order to help them move forward.
We also engage with our local community to understand the wider issues causing homelessness and to enable us to work effectively alongside other agencies, businesses, individuals and charities. Throughout our history we have supported and been supported by so many fantastic groups, all working together to tackle the causes of homelessness and to support those affected by it.
Our main objective at CENS is not only to offer immediate support to the homeless, but to try and help them move on to a more permanent and safe living environment, and to understand the next steps that are needed in order to achieve this. Once we know what steps are needed, we can support our residents to seek the advice, help or counselling they require to guide them through the process – all with a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and food on the table – the bare basics we all deserve.
It has been almost 2 years since we closed the shelter due to Covid and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to reopen. Our staff members and volunteers have all been fantastic, as we have worked hard to get to grips with a new way of operating. It has been a challenge with the additional testing and measures for Covid we have had to undertake, and being open for longer means that we really do have our work cut out, but we are excited about the challenge and are looking forward to welcoming more residents in the future, as well as developing our new Health & Wellbeing room and putting together a timetable of daily events and training programs as we move forward. But more about that another time….