Churches across Molesey are joining forces to provide a night shelter for people who are sleeping rough in Elmbridge, and are asking for volunteers to help run it.

The initiative, backed by Elmbridge Council, aims to provide shelter for up to six people on Thursday to Sunday nights in the lead up to Easter, in response to requests for help from the churches by local homeless people. Additionally, the churches have liaised with other local charitable organisations including Elmbridge Rentstart.

The latest figures show there are currently 14 people who are registered homeless in Elmbridge, but there is currently no shelter in the borough. Shelters in nearby Kingston however, are full.

The three churches involved in East and West Molesey are St Peter's, St Mary's and St Paul's. Volunteers from the congregations are being offered training and tasks include making an evening meal, staying overnight and preparing breakfast. The shelter rotates around these different churches, with a very simple set up manned by volunteers with a centrally employed co-

Rev Richard Lloyd, the vicar of St Mary's Church in East Molesey, said: "I’m delighted that the churches in Molesey have come together to provide facilities for homeless people and rough sleepers during the winter months in Elmbridge.  We’re excited about serving these vulnerable people across the community."

Elmbridge Borough Council are supporting the plan with funds of up to £5,000 to aid co-ordination of the shelter.

It is hoped that if there are sufficient volunteers the shelter could offer food on arrival and on departure each morning. These volunteers could also help to set up and clear up. Although it will only be operational for less than two months, the project will provide an opportunity to trial a shelter without committing to the whole winter and would act as a safety net for those desperately in need of emergency shelter.