Our Story

We at the Robes Project believe that we can make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Our winter shelter combines warmth, hospitality and compassion with professional advice and support.  We are all about making real and lasting difference to help people rebuild their lives.  We are non-judgemental in everything we do.

Where it all started

It was in 2004 that the Reverend Sheryl Anderson, heading the South London Mission, read a research report from UNLEASH (Church Action for Homelessness in London) and was moved to action.

Her vision was to create night shelter, hosted by churches, to cover a gap in provision between London Bridge and Croydon.

She reached out to the Manna Society and the C4WS shelter in Camden. Her colleague Deacon Mark Attwood dedicated many hours to encouraging other local churches to join this vision.

At the same time a group of Lambeth churches also began to think along similar lines and the two groups combined in 2006 to form the Robes Project.  In 2007 the night shelter opened.

We have not looked back since.  Over and over we hear how the unique setting of our winter shelter produces outstanding results.

A small charity doing a big job for the homeless

We celebrate our 10th anniversary in 2017 and now offer:

  • A winter night shelter for the homeless across Southwark and Lambeth, run by volunteers and hosted in church and community halls, from November to April
  • Dedicated and specialist advice and support to help our homeless shelter guests rebuild their lives.
  • A Wednesday club providing lunch, cheer and support to current and former guests of our shelter during the summer months

It takes a village

We’re able to do this through the tireless support of:

All with your help

We are funded entirely by private donations from individuals, churches, community groups, trusts and companies.

We receive no statutory or government funding.  This allows us to stay independent, focus directly on the needs of our guests, and adapt quickly and efficiently to the ever changing local environment.

Each year we need £210,000 to keep on helping the homeless.

Helping more and more each year

In January 2007 the Robes night shelter opened for 2 months with 7 host churches. Referrals were made by the Manna Centre and a Project Coordinator was employed. The Reverend Sheryl Anderson became Chair of Trustees.

The shelter opened for 3 months in its second winter, 2007-08. In addition to the Project Coordinator, Robes employed an Advice Worker to help the guests to move into more permanent accommodation. More churches asked to become involved.

In 2008-09 the shelter opened for 4 months in 14 churches. The first three years of the project were funded by generous donations from the Manna Society and the Merchant Taylors’ Livery Company.

The shelter opened for 5 months in the winter of 2009-10. In November 2009 the Robes Project became a registered charity.

By 2010-11, 17 churches jointly provided shelter for 5 months accommodating up to 12 guests each night. The Reverend Dr Janet Corlett became the Chair of the project. The Advice Worker and Project Coordinator were employed for 8 months of the year.

In 2011-12, the first ever Robes sponsored Sleep Out at Southwark Cathedral raised over £63,000 for the charity. This enabled the Advice Worker and Project Coordinator to be employed for the full year, to develop and expand the project.

In the winter of 2012-13 we started a weekly club where guests, volunteers and Robes staff shared lunch together. A foot specialist visited the shelter once a week to treat foot-related health issues.  Our second SleepOut at Southwark Cathedral raised over £65,000.

In the winter of 2013-14 the shelter opened for the longest period yet, across 22 churches and community centres. We began a singing workshop at the night shelter. The third Robes Project Sleep Out raised a tremendous £82,000 for the charity. Louise Delaye became Chair.

During the winter of 2014-15, Robes was able to host a total of 42 guests. Our fourth Sleep Out in November 2014 exceeded even the previous year, raising £83,000.  We started thinking about how to expand the project. The current Chair, George Martin, became Chair in 2014.

In 2015-16 we continued working with our large network of churches over the winter. The 2015 Sleep Out raised a staggering £104,000 for the charity! These were much needed funds for our plans to expand to two venues a night in the 2016-17 winter.

In 2016-17 we embarked on a new and exciting journey expanding the project. We ran two night shelter circuits simultaneously for the first time, in partnership with 28 churches, offering up to 35 bed spaces per night. We have employed two additional part-time staff members to help make this happen. The 2016 SleepOut was another success, raising just over £100,000.

Get involved

It’s the contributions of people just like you who make all of this possible.  Your help is indispensable.

Please volunteer, donate or fundraise today.
And do join our mailing list and like us on Facebook to keep in touch with our news, updates and success stories.

Read more

10 Years of Robes Shelters

Over the 10 years of Robes existence, a total of 37 different churches have hosted the shelter. We asked Louise Delay-Hand, team leader of 10 years and Roes trustee, to reflect on her experiences hosting Robes over the years I’ve been a team leader at St....

read more

InSight: The Robes Staff Blog (August)

What can I do if I see someone rough sleeping?   We come across people who are homeless every day, not just in the shelter but also in the streets, on public transport, at our churches or in our communities. In these situations, it’s not always easy to know what...

read more

We celebrated 10 years of service in style!

Robes 10th Birthday Challenge We celebrated 10 years of service in style! Robes supporters have been busy hosting and being entertained by events over 10 days in July, to commemorate 10 years of Robes' work with people finding themselves homeless in South London....

read more