It’s been quite hard at Ben’s Centre last week. I (Sue) was unfortunately off sick, and as we run quite short-staffed anyway, the pressure this put on Wendy was immense. On top of all this we welcomed a new member of staff to work with us on Thursday and Friday. Kay has been our volunteer now for nearly a year on a Friday. She has been an amazing volunteer and so we are so pleased to have us working with us. Unfortunately as Kay has been our volunteer on a Friday this now leaves us down a volunteer on Friday and so Friday was doubly difficult. Wendy stoically battled on with the noble help of Kay and kept the Centre open…not with great accolades from the clients but you can’t expect too much in one day.

Our aim was to continue to provide services for our clients in the extreme conditions, the priorities were to prepare a hot meal, keep the day centre warm and give lots of advice about how to dress appropriately to keep warm through the rest of the day and night. Great laughter ensued as Wendy in her normal no nonsense approach grilled each person about their undergarments! It was all about layering she informed everyone- layers are the key; it’s the air that gets trapped between each layer that keeps one warm. She then produced a range of clothing that she pulled out of her extreme weather box (hidden away for such crises) which included thermal vests, t-shirts and long johns. Not everyone was immediately convinced by the wisdom of her arguments or the questionable fashion statements they may make by wearing such articles. Of course all such arguments were dismissed by Wendy who insisted it would keep them warm. This was important and we made sure everyone had a roof over their head for the extreme weather with predictions of -8 Celsius, but those in their own accommodation often can’t afford the heating so we were determined that being dressed appropriately could keep them healthy and alive. Eventually one person folded, a discussion ensued between the ex-military men about the value of women’s tights under ones uniform and its benefits and suddenly the thermal underwear box started to empty. I’m happy to report that Wendy has accounted for all our clients who all report they survived the weekend and that those who had had thermal underwear on were in fact to warm! Success.

We must make a special mention of congregations of the Hallam Catholic diocese who collected us lots of brand new hats, scarves and gloves in advent which arrived in perfect timing we have been able to give out a steady supply through the harsh weather. Well done and many thanks.