Please get involved with World Homeless Week, 9-15 October 2017.
Currently across the globe there are more than 100 million homeless people who are fleeing violence, famine, and poverty. Some of them are in refugee camps, some sleep on the street or in abandoned buildings, and some try to make their way to safer homes elsewhere.
But in England, one of the richest nations on earth, more than 4,000 people sleep rough on any given night. And there are hundreds of thousands of ‘hidden homeless’ people staying on friends’ sofas or struggling in unsuitable, temporary accommodation.
The number of people without a home in England is increasing for many reasons, such as benefit sanctions, a lack of housing, mental or physical illness, job loss, bereavement, relationship breakdown, addiction, and rent arrears.
This crisis is not just about finding people housing, but about society and what it means to be part of it. A home is not just a roof. It is a place to belong and thrive. It is somewhere to settle down, bring up children, earn a living, and be part of a community.
Every day we can see more and more people around us who are caught in a cycle of homelessness. Not everyone who becomes homeless is entitled to government help, and increasingly they must rely on churches and other faith communities to feed and shelter them.
Often it is hard for churches to know how to help homeless people break the cycle and find a home. Every homeless person’s circumstances are different, and the journey from sleeping rough to finding a home is often long and difficult.
Church Housing Trust produces a free guide, ‘How to Help Homeless People’, to help clergy and congregations to understand the issues affecting homeless people and find the appropriate local services to help them. Each week Church Housing Trust gives away around £6,000 in grants to homeless people. The grants are small, but are used to provide exactly what an individual needs: smart clothes for an interview; a training course; a fridge for their new home. These grants provide funding for things for which there is no government help available. For people who have so little these grants, and the care they represent, are life changing.
Your church and community can take this opportunity to learn more about the issues that create and perpetuate homelessness in England, and what practical help they can give to homeless people. It is also a chance to raise funds for homeless people across England.