"To live is to change" wrote Blessed John Henry Newman, but as he went on to acknowledge, that isn't always easy. Over the last month Housing Justice has been undergoing one of the biggest changes in our recent history as we bid farewell to Alison Gelder, who retired as Chief Executive on 17th March. As Alison's successor, I know there are big shoes to fill and big challenges to face.
Over Alison's 14 years at Housing Justice there is much to be proud of. Whether it is Housing Justice's work with Church and Community Night Shelters for the Homeless, the destitute migrant hosting project, encouraging churches to develop affordable housing or its tireless advocacy for those experiencing homelessness, under Alison's leadership Housing Justice always punched above its weight.
However, walk down any high street, visit any Church and Community Night Shelter, speak to any migrant without the means to support themselves and you will acknowledge that there is no place for complacency. The challenges many people face are stark and likely to increase in the coming years and so the work Housing Justice does will become more and more important. Faith Communities, churches and Housing Justice must continue to bring hope and practical support to those in need in the challenging years to come.
I join Housing Justice having spent my working life working in housing and homelessness services. Most recently I was Regional Head at St Mungo's , but I've also previously worked for a YMCA, The Guinness Partnership, Sanctuary, Servite and within Local Government. Throughout my working life those principles of hope and practical support for those in need have been paramount. These same principles led me to become a volunteer in my local Church and Community Winter Night Shelter, becoming the first chair of trustees of the project. We worked closely with Housing Justice in our Church Winter Night Shelter and I have seen first-hand the difference that work can make.
As I start my tenure as Chief Executive I am struck by the faithfulness of Housing Justice's supporters without whose prayers, donations and thoughtfulness, none of the work the organisation does and the difference it makes, would be possible.
It seems appropriate that the transition at Housing Justice should take place during Lent, a time of reflection before the new beginning of Easter. As Housing Justice begins a new chapter, I ask for your prayers for our small but committed team, for the projects and people we support, for Alison in her retirement and for those Housing Justice as the successor organisation to the Catholic Housing Aid Society was set up to assist, those experiencing homelessness or in housing need.
Read more about Housing Justice here: www.housingjustice.org.uk