Church Homeless Trust has a background of more than 130 years supporting homeless people. We believe that home is not just a roof over your head; a home is a place where we belong. It provides the safety and opportunity to establish roots, and develop into the person we were created to be. It is somewhere we are cared for, and somewhere we care about. For some, local authorities will provide the bare basics for survival, but there are many, many gaps and those gaps are what we are there to fill.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the transformative effect of kindness and compassion on people who have often had very little of either. Too often, homeless people are treated like they are lesser, or a public nuisance. When they do receive help to get housing, they’re sometimes placed in bare flats without even bedding to sleep in or food in their cupboards. Little wonder then that so many in this situation end up back on the streets, forced to beg for food and essentials despite having a house to go back to.
In winter, a house can be little more than a way to break the wind if you cannot afford gas and electricity to keep it warm and bright. We step in where other services fail to see the human behind the statistic, and we provide the very things people need to start a new life, instead of just a new place to sleep.
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”Luke 3:10-11
In 1882, Revd Wilson Carlile began to work with homeless people in London. He would often spend nights on the Thames Embankment in winter in order to care for those sleeping rough. Revd Carlile founded Church Army Housing in 1924, setting up drink-free hostels and work opportunities for people trying to stay off the streets and improve their lot in life. Over the years, many other hostels were set up all over England.
In 1977, this accommodation was transferred to the Church Housing Association, as the Church Army did not have access to public funding to maintain the properties. The Church Army continued its work encouraging Christians to share their faith.
In 1984, Church Housing Trust was founded to raise charitable funds to support the people in Church Housing Association hostels, and became a registered charity in 1990.
Alongside this, the Church Housing Association merged with Baptist Housing to form English Churches Housing Group (ECHG). ECHG redeveloped many of the older, original Church Army hostels. Church Housing Trust continued to fund added extras to rebuild the lives of the individuals staying in these hostels.
In 2006, English Churches Housing Group merged with the Riverside Group. The projects’s purposes remained the same: to provide supported living for individuals who have experienced homelessness. This branch of the Riverside Group has more than 100 projects and is now known as Riverside Care & Support. Although the hostels receive state funding, this does not provide the support that individuals need to rebuild their lives and establish a home.
Church Homeless Trust remains an independent charity raising funds for homeless people. There are increasing numbers of people who really need our help, and we are able to reach these people by working in partnership with Riverside Care & Support and other organisations.
Today, we still provide funds for non-statutory services and support that individuals would not otherwise get. We help people become confident and healthy through training, activities, and personal support; we pay for clothes and travel so that people can start volunteering or working; and we pay for basic household goods when they move into their own home.