A BENDIGO shelter has confirmed it can accommodate people experiencing homelessness this winter, despite the challenge posed by COVID-19.
Bendigo Winter Night Shelter has secured a permanent site to house people experiencing homelessness from June to August, after pandemic safety measures forced it to change running models.
The shelter has already screened several prospective guests, looking for a place to sleep during the colder months.
It even hopes to open a drop in centre, to give guests a place to go during the day.
The Bendigo Winter Night Shelter launched in 2019, aiming to give shelter to those sleeping rough during winter.
Fourteen churches opened their doors to provide a place to sleep and hot meals, each hosting one night in a 14 day rotation.
But this model wasn't possible after pandemic restrictions closed churches.
Chair Terry Westaway said the shelter had secured a permanent facility in the Bendigo regions with cabins, a dormitory, a kitchen, toilets and showers.
Mr Westaway said anyone giving food or accommodation to people experiencing homelessness was exempt from gathering restrictions, but the shelter hoped to still respect gathering rules.
He said the new site had plenty of space to give everyone at the program at least four square metres of space.
Mr Westaway said the program wouldn't feel much different for guests this year, apart from a lack of rotation.
He said the big difference for guests would be if the shelter could get a drop in centre running.
Bendigo Winter Night Shelter will face the challenge of about $10,000 extra costs.
Mr Westaway said COVID-19 restrictions meant it would need to pay for rent and extra equipment, such as a bigger bus.
He said if anyone could afford to donate, it would be helpful.
Mr Westaway said the program still needed volunteers, as many from previous years were at elevated risk from COVID-19.
People can volunteer for three shifts, an evening, an overnight and a morning shift. The shelter also needs people to cook meals.
Mr Westaway said the shelter believed it had been blessed to run again despite the challenges.
"God's blessed us again, he's opened the door, provided the way," he said.
"We are encouraged by the support that we're getting. Different churches will host different nights, that's all coming together. The volunteer numbers are building."
To find out more, visit: bwns.org.au
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