Covid-19 has affected the voluntary and community sector in numerous ways, one impact on the Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes is that their services are going from being seasonal (winter) to all year round. This is to ensure the support is available for the increasing numbers of vulnerable people. Read on to hear from the WNSMK about their work, the impact of Covid-19, their volunteers and how you can get involved. Thank you Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes for sharing this with us and all the amazing work you do! To apply for a role this spring/summer please complete this application form: WNSMK volunteer application form (spring/summer 2021)

Volunteer handing out a hot drink at Unity Park Station

The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes has been supporting the homeless and vulnerable for the last 10 years. We provide year-round welfare and practical support from our centre, Unity Park Station (the old bus station in town on Elder Gate).

We not only support rough sleepers but help a growing number of individuals who are not yet homeless but faced with crisis, in order to ensure they don’t end up on the streets in the first place.

In normal times we would also provide supervised overnight accommodation and meals to homeless people who would otherwise be rough sleeping in Milton Keynes during the coldest months of the year, although over the winter just gone we have been focusing on providing help to people placed into emergency accommodation under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ policy.

Our Welfare Team enable our guests to recover lost ID, access benefits, access drug and alcohol support services, to obtain housing advice, move on to longer-term accommodation and to find work.

Our volunteers based at Unity Park Station enable the provision of ‘wrap around’ support for our guests, including access to showers and washing machines, refreshments, hot meals and takeaway food parcels. Covid in general and lockdown in particular means that we have been a lifeline to many, as most support services have been suspended or have been offering online access only. 

Recruiting more volunteers to address growing need

The Covid legacy for us this year is that we are going from being a ‘seasonal’ charity to needing to maintain our level of operations year-round because of growing need.

Usually we are ‘off-peak’ over spring and summer, focusing on fundraising and preparations for autumn.  However, we do not want to reduce our services at the current time, when many people need us more than ever. The number of homeless people we are helping has doubled since the beginning of this year, and we are seeing people newly in crisis arrive daily at Unity Park Station for help. 

We are therefore making plans to maintain and build on our current food and welfare operations, to bridge the gap between last winter and the next in a way that we have never had to do before. 

We are currently looking for new volunteers to join our team in order to keep our services going through spring/summer and to relieve some of our current volunteer cohort who may be returning to work or needing to step down for a break after a busy winter season. Will you join us? 

Volunteer helping with food preparation

Our volunteer roles

We require volunteers for the following roles on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9.30am-2pm: 

  • Kitchen duty: food preparation
  • Kitchen duty: drinks preparation
  • Table service and guest interaction
  • Supervision of showers and toilets
  • Additional cleaning
  • Clothing management
Volunteer helping with clothing management

The additional cleaning roles are important for things such as wiping down frequently touched surfaces, to maintain a safe environment and minimise the risk of Covid transmission. These roles are essential; if we don’t have enough volunteers willing to do these roles we are not able to operate safely. 

Due to Covid roles this year will be fixed in team bubbles and shifts are typically once a fortnight.

In addition to our active volunteers we also need a bank of reserve volunteers to be available to help on a more occasional basis to fill gaps if other volunteers are unable to attend their shift for any reason. Due to Covid we require more reserve volunteers than ever before, to keep services running if people find that they need to self-isolate or if they need to look after dependents such as children whose school bubble may be required to isolate.

How to apply

We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and levels of experience. Training will be given, the main things that are required are compassion for the homeless and willingness to work collaboratively as part of a friendly team. 

To apply for a role this spring/summer please complete this application form: WNSMK volunteer application form (spring/summer 2021)

Alternatively, for further information please contact Jana Turner:

For more information about the Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes visit –

Increased cleaning is vital to allow the service to run, volunteer helping keep Unity Park Station clean