Local homeless charity recognised at annual awards

The annual Pride in Medway awards celebrate all the wonderful people that make a difference to Medway.

We’ve sponsored the awards for a number of years, alongside Medway Messenger, Medway Council, MidKent College and other well-known Kent businesses.

Together with the other sponsors, we have the difficult job of selecting the finalists, deciding on the overall Pride in Medway winner and choosing our own winner, as sponsor. This year we chose local homeless charity One Big Family – Helping the homeless to be our sponsored winner.

The charity was founded in 2014 by Darren and Elizabeth Shaw, with the initial aim of providing essential items to the homeless. Elizabeth Shaw was also nominated and recognised at the awards for her dedication to helping those who might be homeless and vulnerable.

Over the years they’ve expanded and now run an emergency winter refuge in Chatham, throughout November to April.

Last winter they provided nearly 1,000 beds to homeless people in Medway: “It’s open Saturday and Sunday nights plus any night that the temperature is forecast to drop below zero degrees. We offer rough sleepers a warm bed and a safe place to stay”, said Co-Founder Elizabeth.

Three years ago they set up a soup kitchen in Chatham, to provide hot food, clothing and essential items for homeless people and anyone in need. It’s still going and they see more than 70 people a week.

They also offer essentials kits made up of things like underwear, gloves, water, and they provide food parcels and essentials to people and families in poverty.

"We chose One Big Family as our winner because of the difference and impact they have in our local communities; their dedication to improve the lives of people living on the streets should be commended. We’re proud to support them and hope to work with them in the future through our Day for Kent scheme."

Ashley Hook, Chief Executive

mhs homes Chief Executive Ashley Hook with our sponsor winners Darren and Elizabeth Shaw


"Winning the mhs homes sponsor award for Community Service and Good Care was a lovely surprise for which we are truly grateful - as a charity run entirely by volunteers (we are blessed to have an amazing team who work tirelessly to assist others), this award shows wonderful recognition for all their hard work."

Elizabeth Shaw, Co-Founder of One Big Family – Helping the homeless


The charity's next ambition is to open a year-round weekend refuge, which they’re hoping will start at the end of May.

“We work very closely with other agencies in Medway and are proud to be involved with the Rough Sleeper Initiative, which aims to provide long-term solutions and support to homeless people”, said Liz.

One Big Family – Helping the homeless also help people find work, can accompany people to interviews and help with paperwork. They also provide a home starter pack which includes bedding, kitchen-ware and household goods.