Not having a secure home means not being able to set roots in a place, become part of a community and flourish in the ways that we are meant to. As churches there are many things that we can do to help prevent people falling into the sort of situations that I found myself in.Revd Grace Thomas, Anglican vicar with lived experiences of homelessness.
We know that home is more than just bricks and mortar. It means safety, security, and an opportunity to build your life on a stable foundation. That’s why, for decades, churches have played a key role in seeking to end homelessness in many forms.
During the pandemic, homelessness in the UK has changed dramatically. As lockdown began, thousands of rough sleepers were moved into self-contained accommodation. We discovered that it was possible to practically end rough sleeping overnight, if the political will was there.
As we move forward together, we can’t just return to the way things were before, with mass rough sleeping across our cities and towns. It’s crucial that we respond now.
We need to reimagine how we respond to homelessness. As churches, we need to think especially hard. Whilst night shelters and drop in centres are some of the most common forms of social action churches run, they’re difficult to run right now because of social distancing.
That’s why we want to start a conversation about what we can do differently to end homelessness. To do this, we need to invite those with lived experiences of homelessness to the centre of our discussions.
Over the coming months, we’ll be amplifying their voices, sharing their stories and asking them what they want churches to do to end homelessness. Keep checking back here for more stories.
From supported accommodation to social care, campaigning to employment skills, these stories highlight a whole raft of responses churches can take. Many of these responses are already tried and tested, and they show that churches can prevent people becoming homeless as well as react to it. Those involved highlighted that responding to homelessness doesn’t necessarily mean starting up a new social action project – it’s about the way we do church, bringing what we already do best to the people around us in an inclusive way. We can all learn from this advice.
In the last few months, we’ve shown that homelessness isn’t inevitable. So, what will you do to end homelessness?