NEWPORT churches have opened their doors to the city’s homeless for winter.

Now on its eight year, Newport Night Shelter is a group of 16 churches who welcome in the city’s homeless and provide a hot supper and drinks, a warm, safe bed for the night, toiletries, breakfast in the morning, and genuine friendship.

This year, Newport Night Shelter is hoping to help more than 70 homeless people in the city.

Last year, they kept 58 people out of the cold and gave them food.

“If it wasn’t for the people of the Night Shelter, I wouldn’t have anything,” said David Kenny, 28, of Somerton, in Newport, who became homeless three weeks ago. “I’m very grateful for the services they provide.

“I come here every night and it’s more than just food and a bed. It’s a nice, relaxing atmosphere.”

Marc Hepton, Operations manager for Eden Gate: “This service is important because there’s a waiting list for the hostels in Newport. What we are doing is fill the gap.”

On Monday, the Night Shelter was based at St Julian’s Methodist Church, in Caerleon Road. A group of volunteers were busy preparing a cottage pie ahead of the arrival of their 15 guests for the night at 7pm.

“The churches and the volunteers are a key part of this project – last year, we had 400 volunteers,” said Mr Hepton. “We’re about moving people on and we want them to engage with us.

“I oversee the referral process and work with them to help them move on and secure accommodation. Last year, we helped 26 people to get accommodation.

“We also encourage them to rehabilitate, as a lot of our clientele have drug and drinking problems. We support them every step of the way.

“One of the people we helped last year has been clean for a year and has a relationship with their family again.

“Even if it’s just for one person, the service is invaluable.

“We’re a faith-based organisation and we hope that, through interacting with us and being in a church, conversations about faith will spark.”

Marcus Booth, 36, of Baneswell, became homeless three weeks ago because of a relationship breakdown.

He said: “It was a bit daunting at first.

“At first, I had no hope and this place has given me hope. Since coming here, I’ve gone to church and been looking at doing voluntary work.

“I hope it keeps going and inspires more people.”

Newport Night Shelter had to close on Tuesday night for health and safety reasons.