Glass Door Homeless Charity will open the doors of its winter shelters, with the launch of an additional winter shelter circuit in and around Kensington and Chelsea this year.

The opening of Glass Door’s new emergency shelter circuit is in direct response to an increase in demand for its services with more people in London becoming street homeless and turning to the charity for emergency shelter and support than ever before.

Glass Door partners with churches and community venues to offer a roof over the head of those sleeping rough during the coldest time of the year. The new circuit of emergency winter shelters includes venues in and around Kensington and Chelsea including St Peter’s Church in Notting Hill, St Cuthbert’s near Earl’s Court and St Barnabas, St Luke’s and Our Lady of Victories churches in Kensington.

Lucy Abraham, Glass Door’s Chief Operating Officer said:

“The power of our model is that we can unlock space inside churches that would otherwise be unused overnight.

“The opening of a new shelter circuit will mean that up to 170 individuals will be able to find safe shelter every night during the coldest 22 weeks of the year. We believe we are the largest project of this kind in the country.”

Despite being the richest borough in London, Kensington and Chelsea have one of the highest rates of homelessness in London. According to Shelter’s latest report on statistics on homelessness, one in 29 residents of Kensington and Chelsea are homeless.

In Glass Door’s last winter shelter season, there was a 42% increase in demand for its services. 1,800 individuals affected by homelessness called the offices, went to a partner drop-in or registered for their shelters online. This included pregnant women, wheelchair users and a wide range of different nationalities. Glass Door anticipates a greater demand than ever for its emergency winter night shelters this year.

Guests are provided with a sleeping bag and mat and stay in a different venue each night of the week. Caseworkers also work with guests in order to support them in finding permanent accommodation as well as offering general advice and assistance.

As well as a new winter shelter circuit, Glass Door has joined forces with two new community partners. The Upper Room at Shepherd’s Bush and St Cuthbert’s near Earl’s Court will offer Glass Door casework support to shelter guests as well as other services such as laundry or internet access.

Lucy added:

“More people than ever before tried to get a space in our winter night shelters last year and we know the problem of homelessness is particularly acute in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea but the borough also has an incredible community spirit. Our volunteers are the backbone of the charity and over 1,400 were actively involved with the charity last year. We would not be able to function without the many individuals in the community who prepare the shelters, welcome guests, cook food, drive vans, source food and more.”

In recognition of its success in assisting people experiencing homelessness in the local area, Glass Door was recently awarded the Community Collaboration Award at the inaugural Chelsea Awards organised by Cadogan and Sloane Square magazine.

For more information, please visit www.glassdoor.org.uk.