Night shelters

09 April 2019

Night shelters are an important way for some Methodist churches to provide support to homeless people in their community, especially in winter.


Some churches run night shelters as part of a wider cold weather scheme and other churches work with charitable organisations in their area. Each project is unique and comes with its own set of unique risks to manage.

Legal requirements for running a night shelter

If your Methodist church is planning to run a night shelter, there are some legal requirements and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Employers will need to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  • If you are not an employer, you are still responsible for making sure the church buildings are safe for public use. 
  • Risk assessments should be used to identify and mitigate risks.
  • Employees and volunteers should be aware of their responsibilities and any safety requirements they need to meet.
  • Records should be kept as evidence of the steps you have taken to ensure the safe running of the shelter.
If your night shelter provides additional support services, you will need to include these in your risk assessment. In addition, make sure you comply with any specific regulations related to the provision of the particular service. For example, if you provide hot meals, you will need to comply with the Food Safety Act 1990. 
Our night shelter guidance provides the information you need to meet your legal requirements and maintain a safe environment.
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