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Opening doors for the homeless in Chelmsford

A new hub in Chelmsford for CHESS

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Donate Goods

We are continually amazed and delighted at the generosity people show in giving us food and other items to help in our support of the homeless.

Privacy Policy

Scheme

Chelmsford CHESS is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.

Support

Our main aim is to help homeless people to move on to permanent accommodation of their own

Emergency

For those finding themselves newly homeless, for whatever reason, help is often a matter of survival

Homeless

One problem is that homelessness can be invisible.

Churches

We believe that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect, whatever their background, history or circumstances.

Getting Help

We can usually provide food and drink from the Night Shelter in the mornings for those living rough on Chelmsford’s streets and in the evenings at weekends.

Accessing the Nightshelter

We want to help you get back on your feet after your recent experience.

Where to stay in an emergency

For those finding themselves newly homeless, for whatever reason, help is often a matter of survival.

Our Reports

On the Streets

Sustaining Private Tenancies

Finding accommodation for the homeless.

Help from Churches

We believe that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect, whatever their background, history or circumstances.

What’s your Situation

Mentoring Project

Support Workers will work with residents on their individual Support Plan.

Managing Money / CAP

Donating Online

Support the homeless with a financial donation.

Volunteer

Homeless people know that the volunteers are unpaid and that they therefore help them not to gain any benefit but simply because they care.

Fundraise

Become a Member

Show your support for the work we do and for the homeless people of Chelmsford and the surrounding areas.

Shop and Donate

Help CHESS at no cost to yourself. You can now donate money to CHESS just by using a Simply Fundraising Prepaid MasterCard® when you do your shopping.

Volunteers Needed

We rely heavily on our volunteers they play a vital role in the running of the charity.

Our Aims

Our Christian ethos guides our belief that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect.

Meet The Team

With thanks

We are continually amazed and delighted at the generosity people show in support of the homeless.

We are pleased to announce the purchase of a new facility on Chelmsford’s New London Road to provide more beds for the growing numbers of single homeless adults in Essex.

The building will also become a Hub for its support services, training and administrative operations and employment social enterprise, Wingspan.  By bringing these activities under one roof CHESS will provide an end to end service of support and training to assist clients from the streets to independent living.

Part of the new facility will also include an award winning show garden which was featured at the 2016 BBC Gardeners World Show, which was designed by Jean Wardrop and Alex Stevenson. The garden was built and kindly donated through Genesis Landscape Ltd to provide residents a therapeutic safe green place to relax and enjoy.

Rob Saggs, CHESS executive director says

“ We are very excited to be in a position to extend our services to vulnerable homeless single adults here in Essex, with the provision of the new site. We have waited many years to be able to expand on the services we provide, however, we do need to refurbish the property and are asking for the local community and businesses to help us achieve this.

If you would like to make a donation towards our new project or sponsor a room then please contact Lindsay Hurrell, Fundraiser on lhurrell@chelmsfordchess.org or telephone 01245 281104.

New Chess building in London Road Chelmsford

However, we also get embarrassed when people give us things for which we have no storage space or which can be better used by other charities.

We would therefore ask that, before giving us anything, you check this page to find out our current needs.

Donated items may be delivered to our Night Shelter during office hours Monday - Friday 09.00 am - 5.00pm and 7.30pm -10.00 pm Monday - Sunday.  Please telephone us in advance on 01245 252410 so that we can arrange for someone to receive the items you are bringing.


 

Unfortunately due to the high demand of support we have received over the Christmas period of food, clothes and furniture we are currently unable to accept any further donations of these items at the present time, due to lack of storage space, but would like to thank you in advance for thinking of CHESS

Privacy Policy

User anonymity and personal information

Log files are maintained and analysed of all requests for files on this website's web servers. Log files do not capture personal information but do capture the user's IP address, which is automatically recognised by our web servers. Aggregated analysis of these log files is used to monitor website usage. These analyses may be made to available to Chess staff to allow them to measure, for example, overall popularity of the site and typical user paths through the site.

Except as stated already, Chess will make no attempt to identify individual users. You should be aware, however, that access to web pages will generally create log entries in the systems of your ISP or network service provider. These entities may be in a position to identify the client computer equipment used to access a page. Such monitoring would be done by the provider of network services and is beyond the responsibility or control of Chess.

Chess Support will make no attempt to track or identify individual users, except where there is a reasonable suspicion that unauthorised access to systems is being attempted. In the case of all users, Chess Support reserves the right to attempt to identify and track any individual who is reasonably suspected of trying to gain unauthorised access to computer systems or resources operating as part of Chess web services.

As a condition of use of this site, all users must give permission for Chess to use its access logs to attempt to track users who are reasonably suspected of gaining, or attempting to gain, unauthorised access.

All log file information collected by Chess is kept secure and no access to raw log files is given to any third party.

Use of cookies

This website does not store any information that would, on its own, allow us to identify individual users of this service without their permission. Any cookies that may be used by this website are used either solely on a per session basis or to maintain user preferences. Cookies are not shared with any third parties

The table below explains the cookies that are used on this site and why.

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Legal structure

Chelmsford CHESS is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. Its constitution is governed by the charities and companies legislation of England and Wales and by its own Memorandum and Articles of Association. Its objects, as set out in the Memorandum, are:

To relieve hardship and distress amongst the homeless primarily but not exclusively within the district administered by Essex County Council and among those living in adverse housing conditions, in particular but not exclusively by a) the provision of emergency accommodation and associated services, and b) the provision of assistance towards acquiring a settled way of life through rehabilitation and permanent accommodation. 

The relief of poverty of persons living in the above mentioned area.


Homeless people

The homeless people of Chelmsford and the surrounding areas lie at the heart of everything Chelmsford CHESS does.

We exist solely to support them.

Wherever possible, we strive to take their views and needs into account in all our planning and activities.


Members

As a company limited by guarantee, CHESS has life members and annual members. (The life membership list is now closed.)

In addition to paying an annual subscription where applicable, members guarantee to pay a maximum of £10 each towards the payment of the charity's liabilities in the unlikely event that it fails and proves unable to pay them from its own resources.

Any adult can apply for membership. Find out more about becoming a Member and supporting the work that we do.


Trustees

The trustees are the charity's directors. They are responsible for the overall strategy, policy and direction of CHESS.

The members appoint the trustees at the annual general meetings. The trustees can appoint additional trustees between AGMs, subject to confirmation at the following AGM. Trustees serve for three years but are eligible for re-election.

The trustees are obliged to prepare annual reports and accounts showing the results of their stewardship of CHESS. These are considered by the members at the annual general meetings.

Executive

CHESS currently has an Executive team consisting of the Chair, the Executive Director and the Treasurer. The Executive is the vital link between the trustees and CHESS's day-to-day operations. It is responsible for:

  • leading and motivating CHESS personnel to achieve the organisation's overall mission and to provide effective services to all those it supports;
  • preparing and achieving the annual budget and ensuring financial and other resources are used effectively;
  • contributing to the trustees' discussions, sharing with them responsibility for the strategic and financial development of CHESS and the good stewardship of its resources; and
  • spearheading CHESS's efforts to offer homeless people the challenge and opportunity of a new lifestyle that contributes to the wellbeing of themselves and others.

Staff

Working under the Executive are managers who are in charge of particular aspects of CHESS's support for homeless people.

The current management roles are:

  • Support Manager – Client Support Senior Manager
  • Night Accommodation Manager – Business Support manager

The managers supervise a number of other paid full-time and part-time staff. From time to time we also have people working with us on placement as part of a degree or other course; these are unpaid.


Volunteers

Working alongside the paid managers and staff are a large number of unpaid volunteers.

Volunteers discharge a variety of duties, from acting as mentors to doing the laundry, from sleeping-over at the Night Shelter to collecting donated food.

If you are interested in volunteering, click here to find out more.

Winter Project

From November to March our Winter Project provides emergency overnight accommodation in the Day Centre for people who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the streets in the bad weather.

The Winter Project can accommodate up to eight people each night.


Move-on accommodation

The Annexe

Not far from the Shelter is the Annexe, which has four single rooms and shared kitchen, washing and laundry facilities. Here the residents can come and go as they please and are responsible for their own food and for keeping the place clean and tidy. However, the Shelter is only three minutes' walk away should they need our support.

We do not admit residents directly to the Annexe.

When a room becomes available it will be allocated to a suitable person who is already resident in the Night Shelter.

 

The move-on houses

We have three "move-on houses" in other parts of Chelmsford as a further step towards independent living. They each have single bedrooms with a shared kitchen, laundry, toilet, bathroom and garden. Residents normally move into these after a spell in the Annexe.

The move-on houses are intended for those who are progressing towards independent accommodation of their own. One house has five single bedrooms and another has four. The third also has five single bedrooms and is intended for those who have already gained full-time employment.

We normally expect to house residents for a maximum of five months from the date of first entry to the Night Shelter.


Other support

Our main aim is to help homeless people to move on to permanent accommodation of their own. To this end we work with every resident to prepare an individual Support Plan. This may entail the resident seeking treatment for alcohol or drug-related problems, undergoing additional training, preparing a budget or finding a job. Where necessary we can refer homeless people to other agencies for help or advice.

Our Assistant Support Manager works closely with residents throughout their stay with us and may continue to provide some support thereafter.

Where appropriate, homeless people have the opportunity to help us either by acting as volunteers at the Day Centre or by working on one of our projects. Residents moving on to their own accommodation are invited to complete a feedback form so that we can learn from their experiences.


Spreading the word

We are always happy to talk to churches and other organisations in the Chelmsford area about homelessness.

If you would like a speaker to come to one of your services or meetings, please get in touch.
 

Help is urgent

For those finding themselves newly homeless, for whatever reason, help is often a matter of survival. We have had people turn up at our door after being evicted by parents, siblings, partners, friends or landlords, with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. Others have just what they were able to carry in a suitcase or rucksack. It is never enough and, if you are suddenly told to get out, you are not likely to be thinking sufficiently clearly to work out what you are most going to need.

The immediate problem is one of survival. You have to protect yourself from the elements somehow and sometimes you also have to protect yourself from those who would prey on you. Then you have to find yourself enough food and drink to keep yourself alive and hope that what you get is also the right quality to keep you healthy. To maintain both your health and your self-respect you have to keep yourself and your clothes clean. Even if you had a job you are not likely to be able to keep it once you are "of no fixed abode". How do you make sure you get enough honest money to keep going?

Homelessness may be your most pressing difficulty but it is not likely to be the underlying problem. If you have lost the place where you were living, it must have been for a reason. Perhaps your parents kicked you out because they never really cared for you in the first place. Your friends may have got fed up with your heavy drinking. Possibly you have never been much good at managing your own affairs and spent the money that should have gone to pay your rent. Maybe you are suffering from some mental illness.

Whatever the underlying problems may be, they could soon get worse. Even if your mental and physical health is good, it will very quickly deteriorate. You need someone to turn to for help. For most homeless people in Chelmsford that means CHESS.

A case study

A woman in her late thirties turned up at the Night Shelter door one night very early in January one year. She had nothing but what she was wearing. It transpired that her husband had thrown her out between Christmas and the New Year. He had done so in desperation because he feared her alcoholism was harming their young children and, after trying to cope for months, was finally at the end of his tether.

She slept rough for three nights. On the third of those nights she was woken by someone sexually assaulting her.

Luckily she then found her way to us and we were able to take her in. While she was with us she was able to tackle her alcoholism. After a few weeks she moved from our Night Shelter to the Annexe and after a few months there she was able to move into accommodation of her own. She may never return to her husband and children but she is rebuilding her life.
 

There are no homeless people here

That's what we were told when we first started our work in Chelmsford back in the early 1990s. Sometimes we are still told the same thing today. You can hear the same statement being made in similar towns around the country.

One problem is that homelessness can be invisible. Yes, you can see homeless people selling the Big Issue in many places. But how many homeless people do you see apart from them? If you have walked along Chelmsford High Street more than about three times in your life, it is almost certain that you passed someone who was homeless. He or she probably looked no different from all the other people you passed. Could you pick the Big Issue sellers out in a crowd if they didn't have the magazine in their hands?

Another problem is that not all those who clai m to be homeless actually are. There is one character who turns up in Chelmsford every 18 months or so, sits in the High Street with his head down and a sign in front of him reading Homeless and hungry. Please help. and disappears after a few days. Whether he is homeless or not we don't know. What we do know is that every time we have approached him with offers of help he has given us a mouthful of abuse.


What do we mean by "homeless"?

The sociologists have been trying to come up with a definition for years, so we are certainly not going to try. Suffice it to say that we regard as homeless anyone who:

  • has no roof over his or her head;
  • has a roof over her or his head but with an imminent danger of losing it;
  • is sleeping on friends' floors or sofas (a situation known as "sofa surfing");
  • has a roof over his or her head but with no homelike quality to it (such as someone placed in bed and breakfast accommodation); or
  • would be in one of those situations were she or he not being accommodated by ourselves or another charity supporting homeless people.

People who have been homeless often find it difficult to cope once they do find themselves in accommodation of their own, so we continue to help them where we can.


What are homeless people like?

People with more settled lifestyles can have a very jaundiced view of those who are homeless. Most charities working with homeless people will tell you that Homeless people are people just like us. Homeless people are people just like us in that they come from a range of backgrounds and vary from tall to short, from kind-hearted to mean-spirited, from illiterate to highly educated, from young to old. Inevitably some will be people just like you and some will be very different.

Those we have helped in recent years have included a Cambridge PhD, a dentist, a chartered accountant and the former owner of what was once a large thriving business. They have also included cooks, lorry drivers and construction workers. The youngest was 18. (We are not permitted to help people younger than that as they are technically still children.) The oldest was 72. Most were male; some were female. Most were single but a few came to us as couples. Some became couples while they were with us!

The only thing they have in common is their homelessness.

Yet homelessness is not a condition. It is a symptom of other underlying problems.


Why are they homeless?

Well, there is one way in which homeless people are not "people just like us". Most of us, if we suddenly found ourselves without a roof over our heads, would immediately be helped by friends or relatives. We might even be overwhelmed by the offers of help we received.

For someone to be homeless it means that he or she either has no friends or relatives who are in a position to help or has exhausted the patience of everyone who might otherwise be prepared to lend a hand.

This could be because the person concerned has no known relatives or close friends; perhaps he or she grew up in care. The person's relationships with friends and relatives could have broken down for various reasons. Friends and relatives may have become fed up with the person's inability to cope or to find a way out of her or his situation.

Looked at nationally, there are some common themes:

Although most tend to be less well educated than the general population and to seek unskilled jobs, homeless people come from a wide spectrum of the community.

Homeless people are predominantly single. Breakdowns of relationships and support networks contribute to vulnerability to homelessness.

Homeless people have financial problems. They may find it difficult to deal with officials and obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Some can be caught in the "poverty trap".

Homelessness increases vulnerability to health problems, both mental and physical, but makes it more difficult for people to obtain the medical treatment they need.

There are a number of "vicious circles" associated with homelessness. Excessive drinking can lead to homelessness and homeless people may use excessive drinking as a coping mechanism. Financial problems can lead to homelessness and homelessness can make it difficult for people to obtain benefits or a job.

Relationship breakdown may trigger homelessness and homelessness increases the difficulties of maintaining relationships. Mental illness can cause homelessness and homelessness can give rise to mental disorders. As well as worsening the positions of homeless people, these vicious circles can make it difficult to separate cause and effect.

What is it like to be homeless?

One quip has it that no child ever says "I want to be homeless when I grow up." It is not a lifestyle that anyone would choose; the "gentlemen of the road" familiar to previous generations are rarely seen now.

It is easy to imagine the physical hardships of "sleeping rough": the cold, the discomfort of sleeping on grass or concrete with just one thin blanket underneath you and another on top to protect you from the elements, the worries about finding clean food and water, the concerns about keeping yourself clean and healthy.

What may not come so readily to mind are the other hardships, such as the vicious circles we mentioned above. It has been estimated that an otherwise normal person forced to sleep rough will become mentally ill within a matter of weeks; even just three weeks can be enough in some cases. In many instances there is also, of course, a loss of dignity and self-respect. Our views about the sort of people we are can be left in tatters when we find ourselves on the streets.

Unfortunately it is not just natural hazards that are a danger to those sleeping rough. Homeless people are vulnerable and can be seen as fair game by the more boisterous members of society. We have had to call ambulances for homeless people who have been attacked. One of our staff members was once called out at 8 pm on Christmas Eve to take to hospital a client who was suffering from concussion after being mugged.

There is one very significant compensation, though. Homeless people are usually very supportive of one another. Someone newly homeless will quickly be spotted and helped by others. Here in Chelmsford the help often takes the form of an introduction to CHESS. The homeless person can soon find that he or she has acquired a new "family".


How big is the need?

It is notoriously difficult to establish how many are homeless. Because of their vulnerability, homeless people don't particularly want to be identified by the rest of us. Even if you could count those living on the streets, there would still be the ones you couldn't see, such as those sleeping on friends' floors and sofas.

Nevertheless estimates have been made. In the mid 1990s one EU-wide study estimated that on an average day 283,000 people in the UK were homeless and that 460,000 would experience homelessness in the course of a year. The numbers are staggering. It is unlikely that they have gone down since then.

How many homeless people are there in Chelmsford and the surrounding areas of Essex?

We don't know as we have no way of finding out how many are sleeping on friends' floors and sofas or how many deliberately avoid coming into town. At any one time we expect to have 26  homeless people housed in our various buildings (upto 34 in the winter months) and to be in contact with 15-20 others. We also know that we receive between 20 and 40 new requests for emergency accommodation each month.

Our Christian ethos

We believe that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect, whatever their background, history or circumstances. We also believe that we are called to help all adults in Chelmsford and the surrounding areas who are suffering through homelessness or similar problems. Where we have the skills and resources to do so, we will strive to meet their genuine needs irrespective of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

This attitude is based on the example given to us by Jesus Christ. Whilst not everyone who serves CHESS is a Christian or a member of another faith, we all do our best to follow the same approach to others.


Christianity and homeless people 

For Christians, the Bible shows clearly God's concern for the needy and dispossessed. Through Isaiah, for example, God says: 

Isn't this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn't it to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?     Isaiah 58.6-7 (WEB) 

For those of us supporting the homeless, one of the most striking incidents in the New Testament is the encounter between Jesus and the man possessed by the legion of evil spirits (Mark 5.1-20, Luke 8.26-39). The man is homeless, cut off from normal society and living among tombs, just as some homeless people today find themselves sleeping in churchyards. Like some other homeless people, he is violent and suffers from behavioural problems. Like some other homeless people, he engages in self-harm. He has multiple problems, represented by the multitude of evil spirits, and seems to be trapped in his own vicious cycle where one evil spirit is added to another. Our society would not ascribe his condition to evil spirits but would see him as suffering from severe mental illness, just as many other homeless people are. 
 
His encounter with Jesus leaves him in his right mind and able to join society again. Indeed, it seems the only thing Jesus does on crossing Lake Galilee through the storm is to cure this poor sufferer.

During His earthly ministry Jesus Himself had nowhere in this world that He could call "home": The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8.20 - WEB). One of the favourite Biblical quotations of Christian charities for the homeless is Jesus' picture of Christ saying at the Last Judgement to those He places on His right hand: I was a stranger and you took me in. (Matthew 25.35.)

From the earliest times the Church has shown concern for homeless people and others in need. By the fourth century AD the Church in Antioch was renowned for its care of needy people. In pre-Conquest England hospitality was regarded as a solemn obligation of all Christians; it was their duty to welcome strangers. At their consecrations bishops promised "to show mercy and kindness, for the name of the Lord, to the poor, the stranger and all in want."

In the Middle Ages it was mainly the monasteries that opened their doors to the stranger; the Benedictine monks had a commitment to the poor and the stranger as part of their Rule. It has been said that in Medieval Europe the poor required no state aid because the Church met their physical as well as their spiritual needs.

In this country the Church's aid to homeless people declined with the abolition of the monasteries, to be revived from about the eighteenth century onwards. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and, of course, the Salvation Army, were leaders in this new movement to bring the Church's help to homeless and other marginalised people.

The United Kingdom now has numerous Christian organisations dedicated to helping homeless people. A few years ago we searched the Internet to see how many we could find. We stopped counting when we reached fifty

CHESS

As a Christian-based organisation, CHESS is proud to stand in this long tradition. We are glad, too, to work with those of other faiths whom God has also called to have a heart for the homeless.


Our beginnings

In the early 1990s Churches Together in Chelmsford ("CTiC") became concerned about the plight of homeless people in the Chelmsford area.

Its first response was to organise a soup run; local Christians would prepare soup and take it to distribution points in Chelmsford to hand out to those living on the streets.

Harsh winters then caused further worries. During the winter months local churches would take it in turn to open their halls for a week at a time so homeless people could sleep there at night. Christian volunteers would collect homeless people from the centre of town in the evening and take them to the relevant church hall for the night.

Volunteers from each church would look after the residents' comfort and safety.

It became clear that the need for shelter was not restricted to the winter months. CHESS opened its Night Shelter in the middle 1990s. Since the beginning of this century it has acquired an Annexe to the Shelter, move-on houses and a Day Centre.


Today

Today CHESS is still supported by CTiC and handles the CTiC mailings. Many of the churches in Chelmsford and the surrounding area also support CHESS. Most of our trustees and volunteers are drawn from their congregations. The trustees pray every time they meet for the work that CHESS caries out. CHESS also has Chaplin’s that make themselves available to the homeless at the night shelter on a regular basis.

Getting Meals

We can usually provide food and drink from the Night Shelter in the mornings for those living rough on Chelmsford’s streets (and in the evenings at weekends).

Find out more about the Night Shelter >


Emergency accommodation

From November to March our Winter Project provides beds each night for a limited number of people who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough.

Beds are generally allocated on a “first come, first served” basis.

To get more information speak to one of the Night Shelter staff during its normal opening hours.

To apply for a short-term place in the Night Shelter you must contact our Night Shelter (01245 252410). Because of the demand we cannot guarantee that space will be available but we will record your details in case a suitable bed becomes vacant.


Applying for a bed

To apply for a bed with CHESS please download the PDF Application below. Complete and return to jacqui@chelmsfordchess.org

Bed Application

At Chelmsford CHESS we want to help you get back on your feet after your recent experience.

You must appreciate that demand for the services we provide is very high so that we accept only those who are prepared to work with us to resolve their difficulties.

Please read all the information on this page carefully before you accept the bed-space offered by CHESS. The information is also available in leaflet form.

Before you are admitted you will need the following;

  • ID
  • National Insurance No.
  • Evidence of benefits or pay
  • Bank statement (if applicable)

Our commitments to you

We will provide you with your own room where possible (you may be required to share a room) for up to 28 days between the hours of 7 pm and 9 am.

Other things we aim to provide:

  • heat, light, breakfast and dinner if you want them
  • hot showers and toiletries
  • second hand clothing (which is often available)
  • support plan for moving on from CHESS to independent living
  • help with benefit claims

In return we expect

Co-operation

  • to respect and co-operate with staff who try to help you
  • not to treat the facilities as a "hotel" (If you don't use them someone else will!)
  • to read and keep to the house rules

Money

  • to pay the daily charge promptly on your benefit or pay day
  • to sign on for benefits the day after entry to CHESS
  • to provide evidence of earnings and benefits when required
  • to support Housing benefit claims for CHESS

Health and cleanliness

  • to shower on entry and keep your room clean and tidy
  • to keep appointments with health professionals which are made for you


Alcohol and drugs are strictly banned from the Night Shelter


What will happen when I get to 23-24 George Street?

CHESS has eight beds in seven rooms. (One room has two beds which can be occupied by two men, two women or a couple.) If you agree to commit yourself to working with CHESS staff to resolve your difficulties, then you will be allocated a room (or a bed in the shared room) and may stay up to a maximum of 28 nights (provided you stick to the rules of the house and remain homeless). This will allow you sufficient time to agree a risk and needs assessment and a support plan which aims to help you move into more permanent sheltered or private accommodation as quickly as possible.
During your stay you will be able to get breakfast in the morning and a cooked meal in the evening.

Working
We encourage residents to get jobs. Your contribution towards your keep will depend upon how much you earn.

Commitments
After your first night, you will be asked to sign a commitment (an undertaking) to work with CHESS to move you on to other accommodation so that the room can be made available for other homeless people in the town.

Leaving CHESS
We hope you will find somewhere to live quite quickly. But if you break the rules you can expect to be sanctioned and persistent anti-social behaviour may result in eviction from the Shelter.

Apply for a bed

Help is urgent

For those finding themselves newly homeless, for whatever reason, help is often a matter of survival. We have had people turn up at our door after being evicted by parents, siblings, partners, friends or landlords, with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. Others have just what they were able to carry in a suitcase or rucksack. It is never enough and, if you are suddenly told to get out, you are not likely to be thinking sufficiently clearly to work out what you are most going to need.

The immediate problem is one of survival. You have to protect yourself from the elements somehow and sometimes you also have to protect yourself from those who would prey on you. Then you have to find yourself enough food and drink to keep yourself alive and hope that what you get is also the right quality to keep you healthy. To maintain both your health and your self-respect you have to keep yourself and your clothes clean. Even if you had a job you are not likely to be able to keep it once you are "of no fixed abode". How do you make sure you get enough honest money to keep going?

Homelessness may be your most pressing difficulty but it is not likely to be the underlying problem. If you have lost the place where you were living, it must have been for a reason. Perhaps your parents kicked you out because they never really cared for you in the first place. Your friends may have got fed up with your heavy drinking. Possibly you have never been much good at managing your own affairs and spent the money that should have gone to pay your rent. Maybe you are suffering from some mental illness.

Whatever the underlying problems may be, they could soon get worse. Even if your mental and physical health is good, it will very quickly deteriorate. You need someone to turn to for help. For most homeless people in Chelmsford that means CHESS.

A case study

A woman in her late thirties turned up at the Night Shelter door one night very early in January one year. She had nothing but what she was wearing. It transpired that her husband had thrown her out between Christmas and the New Year. He had done so in desperation because he feared her alcoholism was harming their young children and, after trying to cope for months, was finally at the end of his tether.

She slept rough for three nights. On the third of those nights she was woken by someone sexually assaulting her.

Luckily she then found her way to us and we were able to take her in. While she was with us she was able to tackle her alcoholism. After a few weeks she moved from our Night Shelter to the Annexe and after a few months there she was able to move into accommodation of her own. She may never return to her husband and children but she is rebuilding her life.

Social accounting is about recording the social value of an organisation which provides a framework to plan and manage future developments.  It’s focus is on proving, improving and accounting for an organisation value to its beneficiaries, and those that are stakeholders to organisation.

It demonstrates transparency, a willingness to improve by the organisation, and includes stakeholders who can raise awareness and allow them to feedback into how the organisation could improve its service for the mission that it is seeking to achieve.

Social accounting shows the value given back to the community in both financial and non-financial benefits that the organisation provides.

Find out more about Social Accounting click here 

If you would like to read our latest Annual Report please click here 

Life on the streets can be very hard, but there are a number of other organisations and churches that are based in Chelmsford that offer support, to the homeless.

To see what is available and when its available please click the link below.

Information Card

The problem

How do you find accommodation for someone who is or has been homeless?

Of course registered social landlords, such as the Chelmer Housing Partnership, do provide accommodation for the sort of single homeless people we deal with when it is available but the process of registering with the local council and bidding for places can be long and quite intimidating.

We often find ourselves trying to persuade service users not to lose heart.

An alternative is to place the homeless people with private landlords but many private landlords are reluctant to house those on benefits or with a history of homelessness. Even when someone is placed in privately rented accommodation they can find themselves feeling isolated and can forget to do essential things like putting money aside to pay for food and rent.

Too many lose the private accommodation into which they are placed.


The solution

Earlier this year we were successful in our bid for one of 74 "sustaining secure tenancies" projects running around the country. This provides us with a year's funding (from 1 April 2012) for a project designed to move homeless people into private accommodation and to support them for an initial six months to help them sustain independent living and keep their tenancies.

In March Jan joined us as our Secure Tenancies Officer. Starting a month early enabled her to familiarise herself with CHESS and its service users in time for the official start of the project on 1 April.

She has tackled the problem from two angles. She is busy preparing a list of private landlords who are prepared to accept service users whom we refer to them and whom we undertake to support in their efforts to sustain their tenancies. We now have a number of landlords prepared to offer flats, studio apartments or rooms in shared houses. We are still looking for more, though.

Jan has prepared information for prospective landlords and has placed leaflets in local shopping centres. She is always happy to talk to potential landlords about the benefits participation in the scheme can offer.

She has also been working with our service users to help them identify suitable accommodation from the places offered by the landlords working with us. In the first three months of the project ten service users moved into private rented accommodation, so we are well on our way to achieving our targets.

Jan is continuing to support the ten who have moved into private accommodation, giving them advice on various matters, including the items needed to keep their new homes clean and tidy and Housing Benefit.


Could you be one of our landlords?

If you have a property you wish to let which you think might be suitable and would like to help those less fortunate than yourself, do please contact Jan through our office (01245 281104).

She will be delighted to hear from you.

Our Christian ethos

We believe that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect, whatever their background, history or circumstances. We also believe that we are called to help all adults in Chelmsford and the surrounding areas who are suffering through homelessness or similar problems. Where we have the skills and resources to do so, we will strive to meet their genuine needs irrespective of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

This attitude is based on the example given to us by Jesus Christ. Whilst not everyone who serves CHESS is a Christian or a member of another faith, we all do our best to follow the same approach to others.

Christianity and homeless people

For Christians, the Bible shows clearly God's concern for the needy and dispossessed. Through Isaiah, for example, God says:

Isn't this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn't it to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh? - Isaiah 58.6-7 (WEB)

For those of us supporting the homeless, one of the most striking incidents in the New Testament is the encounter between Jesus and the man possessed by the legion of evil spirits (Mark 5.1-20, Luke 8.26-39). The man is homeless, cut off from normal society and living among tombs, just as some homeless people today find themselves sleeping in churchyards. Like some other homeless people, he is violent and suffers from behavioural problems. Like some other homeless people, he engages in self-harm. He has multiple problems, represented by the multitude of evil spirits, and seems to be trapped in his own vicious cycle where one evil spirit is added to another. Our society would not ascribe his condition to evil spirits but would see him as suffering from severe mental illness, just as many other homeless people are.

His encounter with Jesus leaves him in his right mind and able to join society again. Indeed, it seems the only thing Jesus does on crossing Lake Galilee through the storm is to cure this poor sufferer.

During His earthly ministry Jesus Himself had nowhere in this world that He could call "home": The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8.20 - WEB). One of the favourite Biblical quotations of Christian charities for the homeless is Jesus' picture of Christ saying at the Last Judgement to those He places on His right hand: I was a stranger and you took me in. (Matthew 25.35.)

From the earliest times the Church has shown concern for homeless people and others in need. By the fourth century AD the Church in Antioch was renowned for its care of needy people. In pre-Conquest England hospitality was regarded as a solemn obligation of all Christians; it was their duty to welcome strangers. At their consecrations bishops promised "to show mercy and kindness, for the name of the Lord, to the poor, the stranger and all in want."

In the Middle Ages it was mainly the monasteries that opened their doors to the stranger; the Benedictine monks had a commitment to the poor and the stranger as part of their Rule. It has been said that in Medieval Europe the poor required no state aid because the Church met their physical as well as their spiritual needs.

In this country the Church's aid to homeless people declined with the abolition of the monasteries, to be revived from about the eighteenth century onwards. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and, of course, the Salvation Army, were leaders in this new movement to bring the Church's help to homeless and other marginalised people.

The United Kingdom now has numerous Christian organisations dedicated to helping homeless people. A few years ago we searched the Internet to see how many we could find. We stopped counting when we reached fifty.

CHESS

As a Christian-based organisation, CHESS is proud to stand in this long tradition. We are glad, too, to work with those of other faiths whom God has also called to have a heart for the homeless.

Our beginnings

In the early 1990s Churches Together in Chelmsford ("CTiC") became concerned about the plight of homeless people in the Chelmsford area. Its first response was to organise a soup run; local Christians would prepare soup and take it to distribution points in Chelmsford to hand out to those living on the streets.

Harsh winters then caused further worries. During the winter months local churches would take it in turn to open their halls for a week at a time so homeless people could sleep there at night. Christian volunteers would collect homeless people from the centre of town in the evening and take them to the relevant church hall for the night. Volunteers from each church would look after the residents' comfort and safety.

It became clear that the need for shelter was not restricted to the winter months. CHESS opened its Night Shelter in the middle 1990s. Since the beginning of this century it has acquired an Annexe to the Shelter, move-on houses and a Day Centre.

Today

Today CHESS is still supported by CTiC and handles the CTiC mailings. Many of the churches in Chelmsford and the surrounding area also support CHESS. Most of our trustees and volunteers are drawn from their congregations. Prayers are offered at the Day Centre every Monday morning and at the Night Shelter most Tuesday evenings.

If you need advice or help because of a situation that may see you become homeless, or someone you know or care about.

Do not hesitate to give the CHESS administration office 01245 281104 or the night shelter  01245 252410 a call and ask the CHESS staff for help.

We are here to support the homeless.

Contact us

Getting alongside people

We have started a pilot scheme for a mentoring project. This will enable each resident who wishes to take part to have their own mentor in addition to a CHESS Support Worker. The Support Worker will continue to work with the resident on their individual Support Plan, designed to help the resident develop to the point where they no longer need CHESS's support.

The mentor will act more as a companion on the journey, meeting the resident regularly for an open talk on how they are getting on and how they are feeling about it and, where necessary, helping them as they feel their way towards important decisions they need to make or face things they find difficult.

Obviously the mentors need to be people who are settled and secure in their own lives. Mentors have already been chosen for the pilot scheme; they will be taking part in an initial training course later this week.

Our Support team are available to help service users manage their money. Regular training sessions are provided in this area with outside agencies, including CAP money. 

Support staff liase directly for the CHESS service users, to make sure they receive any benefits that they are entitled to. 

CHESS also works alongside Job coaches to try work around any issues that service users may face directly relating to sanctions.

To find out more about Christians Against Poverty, please click the image below.

Thank you for your willingness to support the homeless by giving us a financial donation.

Provided you are a UK taxpayer you can if you wish make your donation under the Gift Aid scheme, which will enable us to recover the tax paid on your donation.

You can make a donation online by clicking the link below

 local giving 

What we gain

Our paid staff are at the core of our work for and with homeless people. We rely on them to provide services of high professional standard. They all bring skills and experience which are invaluable to those we support.

We also rely on a dedicated team of volunteers working alongside our paid staff. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and bring completely different perspectives to the work we do. Some do things which might appear mundane, like sitting in the Night Shelter office when it is open during the day.

Some give us the free benefit of skills and knowledge gained in professional occupations. Some fill a number of different roles.

There is one very important attribute volunteers bring to the support of the homeless that paid staff cannot possibly match. Homeless people know that the volunteers are unpaid and that they therefore help them not to gain any benefit but simply because they care. When you expect to be rejected by "normal" people, it is encouraging and uplifting to know that some actually choose to be alongside you.

Sitting in the Night Shelter office may appear mundane but it is the relationship with our service users that is so valuable.


What you gain

Working with us as a volunteer will give you an insight into the problems of people you might not otherwise meet. You will soon discover that you are making a real difference to the lives of those on the margins of society. You may find yourself developing as a person as a result.

All volunteers working directly with homeless people will receive appropriate training and support.


What you need

Don't worry if you are thinking that working with the homeless is not for you. Most of us started out with the same misgivings. All you need is time to devote to it and a determination to give it a go.

Well, not quite. For legal reasons you do need to be over 18. You also need to live within reasonable distance of Chelmsford, so you can get to us. Because we deal with vulnerable people, you will be asked to undergo an enhanced CRB check.

We welcome volunteers from all ethnic backgrounds, cultures, faiths, genders and sexual orientations and of all ages from 18 upwards. You do not have to be able-bodied; one of our Lay Chaplains is on fined to a motorised wheelchair.



Your own speciality?

We don't know what other skills people may have to offer that we can make use of. Who would think that a graphic designer, for example, had anything to offer to a charity supporting the homeless? Well, who do you think designed our logo? It is possible that your skills may be just the ones we need on something we haven't thought about because we didn't know the skills were available. Why not contact us and find out?


How to volunteer

If you would like to offer your services as a volunteer, you can download out PDF application below, please complete and return to barbara@chelmsfordchess.org. We will be delighted to hear from you.

volunteer application

Firms as volunteers

We are hoping to forge links with businesses and professional firms prepared to help us on a pro bono basis. We would dearly like such help from:

  • Accountants
  • Advertising agencies
  • Architects
  • Builders
  • Printers
  • Public relations consultants
  • Solicitors

If you can help in this way, please contact us on 01245 290553.

CHESS has an annual fundraising event called ‘The Sleep-out’. This is where people from all walks of life sleep rough for one night to raise funds for the charity. It’s a fun evening, but it also captures the heart of many people who complete it, as they experience what it could be like to sleep rough for one night. This happens every year at the end of November.

Chess Sleep Out – A night under the stars!

Sleeping out for the night might be fun, but for many people this is every night reality!  CHESS works to relieve homelessness and hardship amongst single adults in Chelmsford and Essex through the provision of support services and temporary accommodation.

CHESS provides a 7 bedroom night shelter along with shared move on accommodation. Here we provide a safe place to stay along with a hot meal, drinks, hygiene/laundry facilities, support workers and a counsellor.  With our shared housing we can support up to 30 individuals at any one time. 

We aim to support individuals from the moment they step through the door into our night shelter until they move on into their own independent accommodation. 

During the Winter months we run our Winter project, providing the many rough sleepers with food, drinks, sleeping bags and a bed for the night, normally in one of the local church halls.

Every year CHESS hosts its own Sleep Out in the grounds of Chelmsford Cathedral and this year we want as many people as possible to join us and make this the biggest and best sleep out and experience what it is like to sleep rough for a night.

Find out more and get involved with this years event

If you can’t make our sleep out then why not

Host your own Sleep Out – Families, Work Places, Youth Groups and Clubs

If you can’t make our “Sleep Out” then why not  get a group of friends, family or work colleagues together and host your own sleep out event. 

Decide on a suitable date and safe venue and make it lots of fun whilst raising awareness of homelessness.  You can set your own target! and raise as much sponsorship as you can.

To host your own sleep out you need to provide:-

  • A safe place in a property owned by your organisation or somewhere your group has the right to be.
  • The appropriate insurance, a full risk assessment and first aid provisions (with first aider on site).
  • Permission forms for all attendees under 18
  • The correct ratio of qualified adults to under 18’s

or

Schools and Kids Clubs – Teddy Bear Sleep Out

Our very own mascot, Chessney Bear is asking for the support of schools and clubs to take part in the Teddy Bear Sleep Out.

The Teddy Bear Sleep Out may take any form you like from sleeping the bears on the school field or in the playground. Or if you are a club i.e Cubs/Browines you might like to get a group of you together and sleep out yourselves.

Once you have registered you will be able to download your very own event pack including,  “This Bear Belongs To Labels”, Worksheets, Letters and Sponsor Forms.

Don’t wait get signed up now and help make a difference in your local community!


Support Chess

Fundraising for CHESS can take on many different forms. If you have a passion to raise funds for CHESS please let us know how we can support you to do so. Here is a short list of things other people and groups have done in the past – what could you do?

  • London marathon
  • Dress down days at work
  • Charity meals
  • Charity Auction
  • Pierathon – walking the length of marathon up a down the Southend pier
  • Comedy showcase events
  • Sponsored walk
  • Jumble sales
  • Tombola’s
  • Carol services

CHESS Membership

Chelmsford CHESS is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. By becoming a member you will:

  • show your support for the work we do and for the homeless people of Chelmsford and the surrounding areas;
  • receive our quarterly Newsletter; and
  • be entitled to receive our annual reports and take part in our annual general meetings

At the annual general meetings the members play the important role of appointing or reappointing the trustees. They can also raise issues of concern.

Membership carries no obligation to become directly involved in our work unless you so wish. Your only obligation is to pay a subscription (currently £25 a year or £2.50 a month) and to contribute a maximum of £10 in the unlikely event that CHESS should fail financially and be unable to pay its debts. (Please note that our life membership scheme is now closed to new members.)

To apply for membership please download a membership form by clicking the button below, complete it and send it to us at 23-24 George Street, Chelmsford, CM2 0JU, together with a cheque.

Become a Member

Shop and Donate

Help CHESS at no cost to yourself. You can now donate money to CHESS just by using a Simply Fundraising Prepaid MasterCard® when you do your shopping.

These MasterCards are provided by Simply Fundraising, which was started by two Essex-based businessmen. Once you have registered with Simply Fundraising, they will issue you with a card that you can then top-up with funds through their secure online facility. The amount you put on your card is up to you. There is an initial registration fee of £10 but this will be refunded to you (or donated to us if you prefer) once your purchases have generated donations of £30 or more.

The card acts like an electronic version of cash. You can use it at any outlet that accepts MasterCard and you can also use it online. If you use it to buy from one of the retailers participating in Simply Fundraising's scheme, the retailer will make a donation to CHESS on your behalf out of the money you have spent with them.

The amount of the donation currently ranges from 2% to 3¼%, depending on the store. Many household names have agreed to take part, including ASDA, Boots, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Pizza Express, Sainsbury, Waterstones and many others. There is a full list on Simply Fundraising's website.

If you use the Simply Fundraising Prepaid MasterCard® to do your normal household shopping at one of the participating outlets, a donation will be made to CHESS every time. When the total donations reach £30 you will qualify for a refund of your £10 registration fee. You also earn points on the card, giving you additional personal benefits.

You cannot run into debt on the card, as you can only use it to buy goods and services up to the amount you have put on it.


Gift Aid

Since the money raised is a donation from you personally, the normal Gift Aid rules apply. If you are a UK taxpayer, and tell Simply Fundraising that you want your donations to be under the Gift Aid scheme, CHESS will be able to reclaim the tax on your donation.


Further information

You can obtain further information from Simply Fundraising's own website. 


How do I get a card?

To apply for a Simply Fundraising Prepaid MasterCard® and indicate that you want your donations paid to CHESS, click on the "Simply Fundraising website - CHESS page" link below. That will take you to the CHESS page on Simply Fundraising's website. Click on the "Register to support CHESS" button on that page and complete the online form.

Thank you for supporting CHESS!

Click here to access the CHESS page on the Simply Fundraising website

Simply Fundraising Website - CHESS page

Simply Fundraising website - Homepage

Over the years both CHESS and the homeless people we support rely heavily on volunteers who play a vital role in the running of the charity.  They provide many hours of their free time by helping with cooking, laundry, sleep overs and at fundraising events.  

We currently need the following volunteers:-

Sleep-over volunteers

Volunteers are needed to "sleep-over" at the Night Shelter to support the staff member on duty. This involves getting to the Night Shelter by 9pm and staying until 9 am the following day (10am on Sundays and Bank Holidays). Everyone is expected to be in their rooms by 11pm. 

Volunteers sleep in the downstairs residents' lounge. The staff member and the volunteer need to be up by 7am Monday to Saturday and 9am on Sundays & Bank Holidays to be ready for the residents when they start to rise.

The duties are fairly light, being mainly to be a friendly face and to support staff where necessary.


Cooks

Currently no vacancies for Cooks

We need volunteers to cook at the Night Shelter in the evenings. We aim to provide simple, good and hot main courses for each person staying at the Night Shelter, which can be up to ten (eight residents plus staff member plus sleep-over volunteer).

Cooks arrive at 7pm (5pm at weekends and Bank Holidays) and stay until the sleep-over volunteer arrives at around 9pm.

Fundraising Assistant

 

Have you ever undertaken any fundraising before or worked in an office? if so do you have a minimum of a day a week you can spare to support the fundraiser in undertaking some admin work and helping with the organising of events. If you are up for the challenge then please get in touch with Lindsay Hurrell. lindsay.hurrell@chesshomeless.org

Events Assistants

We organise a range of fundraising events throughout the year and also attend various events with our stand. We are always in need of extra pairs of hands to help, so if you enjoy meeting people and are happy to be called upon on an ad hoc basis then we could really do with your help please contact lindsay.hurrell@chesshomeless.org

Collection Box Co-ordinator

We need a Collection Pot Co-ordinator on an ad hoc basis to place our collection pots around various locations within Chelmsford.  You must also be willing to service them when they are full and we may require you to count the money. For futher information please contact Lindsay Hurrell. lindsay.hurrell@chesshomeless.org

Want to volunteer?

If you would like to volunteer for one or more of these roles, please contact Barbara, our Business Support Manager, on 01245 290553 or you can download out PDF application below, please complete and return to barbara.buxton@chesshomeless.org

volunteer application

Supporting the Homeless

CHESS stands for "Churches Homeless Emergency Support Scheme". That is a significant statement of who we are and what we are about. To learn more, click on the links below to find out more.


Churches

Our Christian ethos guides our belief that everyone is of equal worth and equally deserving of respect, whatever their background, history or circumstances.

Click here to read more.


Homeless

Homelessness is real. At any one time we expect to have links with significant numbers of homeless people, a number which increases as the weather becomes harsher in winter months. We also receive significant numbers of new requests for emergency accommodation each month.

Click here to read more.


Emergency

For those finding themselves newly homeless, for whatever reason, help is often a matter of survival. We have had people turn up at our door after being evicted by parents, siblings, partners, friends or landlords, with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. People need someone to turn to for help. For most homeless people in Chelmsford that means CHESS.

Click here to read more.


Support

We provide a variety of services for homeless people, including mentoring, advice on securing accommodation, securing employment.

Click here to read more.


Scheme

Chelmsford CHESS is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.

Our aims are:
To relieve hardship and distress amongst the homeless primarily but not exclusively within the district administered by Essex County Council and among those living in adverse housing conditions, in particular but not exclusively by a) the provision of emergency accommodation and associated services, and b) the provision of assistance towards acquiring a settled way of life through rehabilitation and permanent accommodation.

The relief of poverty of persons living in the above mentioned area.

Click here to read more.
 

Content

We are continually amazed and delighted at the generosity people show in support of the homeless.