Robes Project Shelter for Homeless People 2018/19


This year St Matthew’s will be hosting guests from the Robes Project in the first half of the winter. We will start on Tuesday 27th November 2018, and finish on Wednesday 23rd January 2019. This is earlier in the season than in previous years. Boxing Day falls on a Tuesday this year, but the guests won’t be staying with us on that evening, they’ll be hosted by Crisis for Christmas.

As in previous years, we are looking for volunteers to provide food, especially vegetarian dishes, and to host the guests both on the Tuesday evening and on the Wednesday mornings. We are especially keen to recruit volunteers to sleep overnight in the church, alongside the guests. Volunteers who sleep overnight will require a DBS check.

To be a successful volunteer, you must be able to engage well with people who have complicated needs, and be willing to listen and take an interest in their lives. It also helps if you are good at erecting camp beds, and can remember guests names, and where they are sleeping. If you know a clever way of putting a duvet cover on, then you’ll be much appreciated. Last year some of the volunteers fixed a plumbing issue in the night, but that was a one off, and hopefully that skill won’t be needed again!

If you would like to volunteer with the Robes Project next year then please register now. The training session will be at 7pm, Tuesday 20th November 2018. It will take just over an hour, and there will be an opportunity for volunteers to introduce themselves, have a quick tour of the church and learn more about the programme.  Previous experience has been that volunteers who attend the training event get much more out of the experience than those who don’t. Bring a diary, as we will sign up for shifts on that evening too.

The training evening and the project all take place at St Matthew’s Church, here in Brixton. SW2 1JF.

This year we are also looking for volunteers to be the shift leader for an entire evening, taking charge between 7pm and 10pm. This is suitable for volunteers who have participated before, and feel like they know what they’re doing.

Tuesday Evening 27/11/2018 Until Wednesday Morning 28/11/2018
Tuesday Evening 04/12/2018 Until Wednesday Morning 05/12/2018
Tuesday Evening 11/12/2018 Until Wednesday Morning 12/12/2018
Tuesday Evening 18/12/2018 Until Wednesday Morning 19/12/2018
Guests don’t stay with us on Boxing Day
Tuesday Evening 01/01/2019 Until Wednesday Morning 02/01/2019
Tuesday Evening 08/01/2019 Until Wednesday Morning 09/01/2019
Tuesday Evening 15/01/2019 Until Wednesday Morning 16/01/2019
Tuesday Evening 22/01/2019 Until Wednesday Morning 23/01/2019

Picture of the tables 2015

The tables and chairs are set out in the Church

Guest Timetable
7pm Guests arrive and sign in.
7:30pm Guests and volunteers share a meal together.
10pm Lights out.
7am Breakfast is served.
8am Guests leave for the day, with instructions on where to go the following evening.

guests chatting before dinner

The guests chat before dinner is served

Volunteer Timetable
First shift (evening shift)
6:oopm Volunteers arrive to rearrange the church chairs, set up the beds and bedding, and lay the tables.
7:30pm The evening meal is served. Volunteers eat and chat with guests.
9:00pm As the evening quietens down, volunteers begin to leave.

9:30pm Night shift arrives and is briefed by outgoing shift.
10:00pm Lights go out.

Robes breakfast volunteers

Robes Project volunteers in January 2015

6:00am Morning shift arrives and cooks breakfast.
7:00am Breakfast is served.
8:00am Guests leave. Volunteers tidy church and finish washing breakfast dishes.
9am Volunteers leave.



The Robes Project was set up in January 2007 to support people who are homeless, by running a temporary night shelter in churches, church halls, community halls. It operates between November and April of each year and hosts between 15 and 20 guests each night.

The Robes charity supports approximately 50 people each year, each of them staying for about a month. The guests have accommodation, breakfast and dinner, community with fellow guests and volunteers and, of course, they have access to an advice worker.

The stability and rest afforded by staying at the night shelter provides a platform for them to address other issues they face such as their housing, health, relationships, finances and legal matters.

It has over 400 volunteers who run the night shelters in teams. About 21 church venues host the project on a rota basis. Without the dedication of the volunteers and churches, the whole project would not be able to operate.

Annually the Robes Project runs fundraising events. The biggest event is a Sleepout at Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge. Over the past three years this event has raised over £200,000 which has been crucial to the continuation of the vital work of the project.