Farewell and thanks to one of the founders of Leamington homeless shelter

Chris Johnson cuts his farewell cake with Margaret Moore.
Chris Johnson cuts his farewell cake with Margaret Moore.

One of the founders of a night shelter in Leamington has stepped down after nearly 10 years in the role.

Chris Johnson and Margaret Moore have been working as a team for nearly decade to provide food, shelter and a safe place for the town’s homeless.

Chris Johnson cuts his farewell cake with Margaret Moore.

Chris Johnson cuts his farewell cake with Margaret Moore.

But now Chris has decided to retire from his role at the shelter, which based at Radford Road Church.

Chris, who is 77, said: “We have been working as a team from the start. I will miss Margaret and our team of volunteers. It was not an easy decision to make to leave but I had to for health reasons. This has been a life changer for me.

“I will miss the volunteers and most of the clients but I will still keep in touch and pop into the shelter.”

Chris and Margaret set up the night shelter back in November 2009. They knew that Leamington had a homelessness issue but they had to convince others of the scale of the problem.

After fighting their case they opened their doors to rough sleepers for the first time at Bath Place Community Venture on February 15 2009.

Following a fire in September 2009 the shelter was moved to the Radford Road Church and opens every Wednesday and Sunday night.

The shelter now attracts around 40 to 50 guests every Wednesday and Sunday night, with around 15 of these sleeping over.

Chris said: “What astonished me every day is the support we get and the volunteers that we have. They are brilliant.

“When we started we made a resolution not to have paid staff and we have been going nearly 10 years and haven’t had any paid volunteers and we don’t have a strict rota so our clients know the volunteers are there because they want to be.

“When we first started we didn’t have set plans and the shelter has evolved because of the volunteers and the clients.”

Margaret, who is 73, will continue to run the shelter with the dedicated team of volunteers.

When asked about the homelessness situation in Leamington, Margaret said: “More needs to be done but it is very hard to describe exactly what because everybody is different. We never know what someone has gone through so just meeting their needs where they are is important and this is also important to them.

“We provide a hot meal at a table, we are there if they want to talk and we have also gone to court and gone to hospital with people before. We react to our clients needs.”

The team at the night shelter are overwhelmed when they receive donations.

Chris and Margaret said: “We never ask for anything and we don’t ask for a penny but people do donate money and we see this as God helping us and providing for us. The support we get is just amazing.”

For more information about the Leamington Night Shelter go to: www.leamingtonnightshelter.org.uk