What Is CENS?

New beginnings...

We now offer so much more than just a bed and a meal - from housing and health to learning and support, we aim to help the homeless move on to permanent, independent living. Since opening, we have helped hundreds of people make a fresh start in their lives. Unfortunately, at the start of the pandemic we were forced to close , but in January 2021 we underwent a major refurbishment and are now open once again, with some major improvements and expanded services in place.

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Help For Homeless

There are a range of complex and overlapping reasons as to why people find themselves homeless. They may be facing a number of issues in addition to, and often compounded by, their situation. These can include addiction, mental health issues, offending histories and often a combination, all of which are difficult to address and support. The isolating and destructive nature of homelessness means that people find it difficult to get the help they need.

How can CENS help?

CENS can play a crucial supporting role, by moving these vulnerable people away from the streets and into a safe, secure, healthy environment, where they can access the services and advice needed to begin to move forward.

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Our Aim!

Our aim is to support our residents and help them take their first steps towards securing and maintaining permanent housing. Our success is down to the intensive work we carry out as a team, alongside our residents and in collaboration with our partner agencies, to meet the transitioning goals required. This ensures our residents only move forward when they are ready and confident to do so. Our aim is to make the transition from homelessness to eventual independent living as smooth and successful as possible.



The Future!

There are some really exciting developments underway at CENS. Although our ethos, passion and determination will remain the same, we will be adapting our services and taking this opportunity to offer greater wraparound care to support our residents. Here are 5 of the major developments taking place..

We’ve changed our name! To better encapsulate all that we do here at CENS, we are now called Colchester Engagement & Next Steps. We are so much more than a night shelter and needed to reflect this in our name – our aim is to engage and collaborate, support and care, not only for everyone that walks through our doors, but with all our supporters, partners and sponsors who help our residents take those next steps towards independence.

We will move from being a night shelter to remaining open 24 hours, 7 days a week. This will enable us to better support and safeguard our residents and to protect them from negative influences, giving them the best possible chance to progress towards permanent housing. We will also be able to monitor their progress and provide them with all their nutritional and wellbeing needs.

Being open during the daytime will allow us to offer a much greater level of support. By working closely with our partner agencies and other charities, we are hoping to provide an holistic wraparound care experience, to fully prepare the residents for the next steps.

Our 17 rooms will all now be single occupancy with personal shower room facilities. This will not only make the rooms Covid-compliant, but will also offer more privacy and dignity for our residents as they move towards independent living.

Our grant from Catalyst has enabled us to build a new support facility, which will give us a safe space for both mental and physical treatments and therapies, in order to help our residents better cope with life once outside the safety of the shelter. If you would like to offer specialist services, you can find out about more