CAPTION: The Reverend Gareth Regan is working with a team of trained volunteers to run the night shelter at Abbotsbury Church

Church opens its doors to offer ‘the very best’ hospitality and a bed for the night

Posted: 24th January, 2020

A church in the centre of  Newton Abbot is being used as a new night shelter for homeless people in the area.

Abbotsbury Church is being opened up on Friday evenings during January, February and March for anyone who needs it.

Guests are given a three-course meal, overnight accommodation, breakfast the next morning and a packed-lunch to take away.

The project, known as CROWNS, is being managed by the vicar, the Reverend Gareth Regan and run by a team of 44 volunteers.

It is a joint project with other local churches and charities, like the Salvation Army.

“It’s part of our passion that the people coming should be seen as human beings who we treat in the very best way we can”

Gareth said: “I am really pleased to see the church step up as a force for good in this community, it’s phenomenal!

“One of the really interesting things is that it’s now no longer just churches who are involved, we’ve had people getting involved who are concerned community members.

“One of them works near the town’s cattle market and said he had found a couple of people sleeping there and felt that it wasn’t right.

Food donated by local organisations

“Our chef isn’t a Christian but had wanted to start a soup run and heard about what we were doing and offered to partner up.

“The community,  as much as the Christian churches, wants to see those who aren’t being loved and aren’t being taken care of looked after.

“Everybody seems to think this is a good idea.”

The food is being donated by local food banks and community groups.

It is being prepared on site in the church’s kitchen by caterer Chris Plot, who is giving his time for free. A recent menu was: soup followed by chicken breast stuffed with brie and cranberry, wrapped in bacon and served with thyme mash. Desert was a chocolate brownie or rocky road bar.

Gareth said: “It’s part of our passion that the people coming should be seen as human beings who we treat in the very best way we can, not just ‘homeless people’.”

He said the project had taken 18 months to get off the ground but the preparation time had been important to get it right.

“My ultimate hope it that in future we don’t have to exist. I would love to be a flash-in-the-pan that is here just one year, that our links would mean we could help people get housed and on the road to a more ‘normal’ place in society.

“Realistically I think we will probably be here for a number of years.”

If you would like to know more about CROWNS please email them here