We’ve received a letter of thanks from Cameron Black of the Bethany Care Shelter.
Thank You- 2015-16 -Care Shelter
Thank you so much for what you have done this year. Thank you for all your hard work cooking, for the use of your halls and for all you gave financially and materially. And thank you most of all for giving of yourselves in loving and showing kindness to those using the Care Shelter.
This year has been our busiest to date. Almost 40% more demand than last year which had been our previous busiest ever year. It is terrible that the demand is so high. On average you guys helped 48 people a night! That adds up to 9072 presentations in the year. Well done for making a massive impact on what is a terrible problem.
You also gave around 200 sleeping bags and so many blankets that we already have enough for next year…! Thank you!
Yes this year has been a very hard one in lots of ways due to the demand being so high that we have not always been able to fit everyone in but this year has also been an incredibly special year. So many amazing stories:
- Young Hamish (pseudonym) who was thrown out of his parent’s on Christmas Eve now has his own accommodation and job and has started a whole new life attending church too! Rescued in the darkest of nights.
- Grant (pseudonym) who is now in the Bethany Christian Centre four months sober, the longest since he was a teenager. Each day another reason to thank God.
- Fred (pseudonym) also in the Centre was so long on the street and so lost to alcohol that he had really given up any hope he had for himself. He is now literally unrecognisable. Full of joy, sober, clean, restored. So precious.
Life changed after life changed after life changed.
We who worked in the Shelter this year lift you up the Lord in thanks for what he has achieved through you.
We are already looking forward to next year and thinking how we can best rise to the growing problem.
But we want to get altogether to celebrate what the Lord has done this year first. We will be back in touch soon with an invite to a Ceilidh. The Care Shelter is 20 years old now after all!
I will leave you with two final pieces of writing. One from very early on in the Shelter written by one of the Team Leaders and another, a reflection on the very last night. These two narratives show so much of what we have seen this year.
Thank you and God bless!
Care Van & Care Shelter Manager
From the start:
“Having a week off & a lot of time to think & pray over my first week has lead me to want to write some thoughts.
By the end of my first week working I was changed in a way that I couldn’t imagine would have happened. I was overwhelmed by the way the people using our service treated each other with grace & compassion. Examples of this included giving up their beds for one another when we had limited space, giving their own sleeping stuff to those who couldn’t get beds & telling people who couldn’t get in where to find a good sleeping spot etc. When food was short people frequently said serve them before me. When someone was obviously disabled people made sure they came to the front of the queue. People also stayed to help tidy despite staff saying they didn’t need to. On a couple of occasions people came & asked me how I was finding turning people away or if I needed a hot drink.
“All I kept thinking this week was- what if we did church the way they did the Shelter. I know there are always bumps but I couldn’t stop praising God for all the fruit of the spirit that where being shown in the Care Shelter in the darkest of the night.”
From the end:
For the last night of the Shelter all the staff were invited in to spend time together reminiscing and encouraging one another. Many tears of joy were shed as people thought over what God had done this year in the staff team and through them.
This attitude of gratitude was carried into the hall when the guys were in and there was embrace after embrace offered from the guests wishing to express genuine appreciation for what the staff have given of themselves to look after and care for them from a place of love.
“This is an amazing atmosphere” one of the guests commented.
People were looking in each other’s eyes and knowing that something very special was coming to an end.
A group photo was taken with people making funny poses and smiling from ear to ear.
“That’s our family photograph that” one said
The guests produced a card “For the best people we know”.
“You guys are awesome” one of the staff commented overwhelmed by the real sense of happiness and mutual enjoyment in the Shelter that evening.
Another turned to the room in appreciation and raises their hands to clap those present and the other staff joined in too.
Spontaneously all the guests facing from the where they were around the room joined as one to clap back at the staff team. For several seconds the mutual applause brought tears to both the staff and guests eyes. A moments silence continued before the room then turned back into the bustle and happy environment it was.
People were talking about what they were going to do. Two guys wanted to get into Bethany House and were hopeful when they heard they had spaces. Another guy who had started to turn his life around, stopping legal highs, was excited to be moving into the Centre when his Housing Assessment was complete. Stories of hope seemed to be the order of the day.
People were in their beds now but the light had not been switched off at 11 pm as it usually was as the room was one. Not just individuals beside one another but one conversation peacefully happening across the hall. Through the guests chatting to the staff it was decided that to mark the last night of the Shelter the staff should pray.
The Team Leader led a silent room in prayer. Thanking God for each life in the room. Thanking Him for the Shelter. The guests sat and lay in their beds each one seemingly deeply touched. Some with hands open and faces uplifted with tears on their cheeks in an overflow of thankfulness.
The lights went out and the staff team sat silently in the dark in a small group in the middle of the room as the guests slipped off into peaceful sleep. Something very special had been experienced by everyone there. A moment where heaven was known in a room of people who had been brought together by situations tumbling beyond their control.
“This is the set up for next season.” One of the staff commented in the profound moment that would take weeks for each person to process.