Night shelters

Churches may wish to use their premises to provide shelter for the homeless at night.

Night shelters can constitute additional risks to the fabric of the building and its contents as well as the safety of any employees or volunteers and the guests themselves.

Before your church undertakes such a project you may wish to consider:

  • Planning – you may require planning permission/ change of building regulations from your Local Authority, as they may deem the night shelter to be a significant change to the use of the premises;
  • Food hygiene - regulations state that food must be produced safely and hygienically. You must make sure that your premises are kept clean and are properly equipped. Food must be hygienically handled. Employees and volunteers must be appropriately supervised and be instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters. For more information visit the food hygiene & kitchens section.
  • Health and safety – you must carry out a full risk assessment for the night shelter in addition to the health and safety requirements for the church.. This should include proper consideration for smoking requirements. Please see the risk assessments section;
  • Insurance – if your place of worship wishes to start a night shelter you must contact your insurance provider as this activity may not be covered under your church insurance policy due to the high risks involved and you may need to seek additional cover.