An interview with Dan Bushell of Inn Churches, who works as a Welfare Manager and Winter Shelter Coordinator. Inn Churches offers “practical support for those who need it most”, which includes a Winter Shelter, a Pay-As-You-Feel Cafe, and a ‘Warm Homes’ programme.
“It started as a winter shelter for homeless people but now we offer follow on support the whole year round.”
What would you say are the main aspects of Inn Churches’ work?
So we do a lot – the Winter Shelter, welfare support, accessing employment and accommodation, and then there’s the Storehouse where we intercept what would become waste food from major retailers. That goes to community markets and projects throughout the Bradford area. We also use it in the pay as you feel vegetarian cafe, which is open from 10 ‘til 3 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It’s grown a lot. It started as just the winter shelter for homeless people but now we offer follow on support the whole year round.
So what is the Winter Shelter?
It’s a scheme which allows 12 homeless people to stay in a different church hall each week usually from December through to the end of March. This year we’re still hosting people but there’s such a demand on the service that we’ve had to make it so that for each person it’s a maximum of one month stay, and then if someone’s waiting to get a place in a hostel and working with me we’ll let them stay for longer. It won’t be somewhere where someone’s just got a blanket and bed booked for the whole four month period, it will aim to help them find longer term housing options. We need to make sure we have emergency accommodation available for the people who have no other options.
“We need to make sure we have emergency accommodation available for the people who have no other options.”
Why do you think Inn Churches is important as an organisation?
It’s one of the few non government funded organisations. It’s not self funded but done through fundraising. It means we’re not responsible to meeting government targets, which could put us at risk of closure. We have events like the Suits on the Streets a couple of weeks ago, which was specifically to raise money for the Winter Shelter.
Have you witnessed any growing need for the services Inn Churches offer?
Yes. There’s more and more destitute people in Bradford, they struggle to claim benefits. They can’t claim housing benefit and access social housing and we are one of just a few organisations that still have destitute bed spaces.
Are there any plans to expand the work of Inn Churches?
The Storehouse is always expanding in terms of the amounts of surplus food coming in, but also in terms of the Winter Shelter we’d like to be able to open it for a longer period and have more beds.
“We’d like to be able to open the Winter Shelter for a longer period and have more beds.”
How can people get involved with Inn Churches?
We’re always needing volunteers, either working in the cafe, or working in the warehouse, which involves sorting through and weighing food that comes in, rotating the stock, dealing with groups coming in to collect from the warehouse.
And what other organisations do you work with and how closely?
In terms of the accommodation and welfare advice we work with Hope Housing and Discovery House. We’ll refer people to them, they’ll refer people to us. The Storehouse is used by a massive range of organisations and community groups and schools, the university.
Can you tell me some more about the Suits on the Streets event?
It runs every year, normally in October or November. We use two of the arches in Forster Square and it’s a case of highlighting the homeless situation. We’re one of the few organisations that run a sponsored sleep out that is actually out on a public street. A lot of organisations run it at a football club or a secure area. It makes more of a statement.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Every day is different and I’ll have things planned for the day and there’ll always be something that comes in, not knowing it’s going to happen. And there’s always so much to do, every day is busy.
“Every day is different.”
More information about the services offered by Inn Churches can be found here –