Kind-hearted volunteers rally round to help the homeless in Ilkeston

The Rev Christine French, left, and Derbyshire County Council Time Swap co-ordinator Jo Perkins get ready to welcome volunteers to St John's.
The Rev Christine French, left, and Derbyshire County Council Time Swap co-ordinator Jo Perkins get ready to welcome volunteers to St John's.

Members of Derbyshire County Council’s Time Swap scheme are banding together to help homeless people in Ilkeston.

The kind-hearted volunteers are helping tidy the grounds and inside of St John the Evangelist’s Church to get it ready for Christmas to give homeless people a bed for the night.

Offering homeless people shelter in the church is the brainchild of the Rev Christine French who noticed people were sleeping in the church grounds during the summer.

But instead of turning them away, the church decided to open its doors from Christmas to provide shelter, a hot meal and breakfast.

After mentioning her plan to the county council’s local Time Swap co-ordinator Jo Perkins, it was then the Time Swap volunteers sprang into action - and will be gardening and cleaning at the Nottingham Road church today.

They be there from 10am-1pm and are hoping other local people will join them.

The council’s cabinet member for health and communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “It’s great to hear our Time Swap volunteers are helping the local community. Time Swap is an excellent scheme that helps people to help each other by sharing skills and knowledge.

“In Ilkeston they’re going that step further and helping the wider community and it’s heartening to see people taking time out of their busy lives to do that. I know they’d appreciate any support they can get.”

As well as supporting the clear up, other Time Swap members are also lending a hand.

Volunteer Brenda Green has sewn drawstring bags to hold toiletries for those staying in the church. And another Time Swapper, Sandra Kimbley, is collecting toiletries to fill them.

The Rev French, Priest in Charge of All Saints, Kirk Hallam and Associate Priest at St John’s, Ilkeston, said: “Rather than try to evict people from the grounds, the Church Council adopted a different approach and agreed to host the Ilkeston Winter Shelter, starting on Christmas Day and running through to Valentine’s Day.

“In addition to a bed for the night, guests will be offered a simple warm supper when they arrive and tea and toast in the morning before they leave.

“The response from the local communities has been overwhelming, but we still need more support.”

Ward Recycling of Ilkeston has also agreed to donate a skip to collect and dispose of green waste and will drop and collect free of charge.

- If you would like to help on the day just turn up or contact Jo Perkins on 07974 269193.

Find out more about Time Swap at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/timeswap.

If you join Time Swap you will earn three hours of time that you can then use if you need help.