Source: Housing Justice
Homelessness across the UK has more than doubled in the past seven years. Housing Justice, the national Christian homelessness charity, is urging churches to take part in Homeless Sunday (28 January 2018), the annual chance for churches to reflect on homelessness through their services.
Homeless Sunday prompts Christians to reflect on what home means to them, and consider what they can do in response to rising homelessness across the country. Now in its 25th year, the day offers churches of all denominations the chance to unite in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness, and encourage practical action in tackling it.
Nationally, homelessness has more than doubled since 2010, with 88,410 homeless households applying for assistance during 2016-17, and 105,240 families threatened with homelessness helped to remain in their home in the same period. Meanwhile rough sleeping, the most conspicuous form of homelessness, has increased by 134% since autumn 2010, with 4,134 rough sleepers counted and estimated on a single night in autumn 2016.These huge increases in all forms of homelessness have prompted to Housing Justice to label the current situation a crisis.
Christians and church communities are already at the frontline of the response to the homelessness crisis. During winter 2016/17, more people than ever relied on the Housing Justice Church and Community Night Shelter Network, where churches and communities open their doors to offer shelter to those with no alternative place to stay.
As homelessness has risen so too has the response from churches with 107 Church and Community Night Shelters in the Housing Justice network working to alleviate homelessness, a rise from 65 just three years ago. Likewise, the number of guests accommodated across the network last winter stood at an estimated 6000 (5,885) people, whereas two years ago this figure was around 3,640 guests. Now more than ever, Homeless Sunday offers the chance to reflect on the issues at hand and provide a platform to plan further practical action.
Full details of how to get involved in Homeless Sunday and materials to support churches are available at www.housingjustice.org.uk
Housing Justice CEO, Kathy Mohan said: "Homeless Sunday encourages churches to reflect on homelessness, to pray and to plan practical action. Part of this reflection centres on the practical data and personal stories that speak of rising homelessness in our country, and the misery that it brings with it. With the Homelessness Crisis increasing, we believe Christians must be aware of the severity of the situation, active in our response and adamant in our determination to end homelessness.
"We also invite people taking part in Homeless Sunday 2018 to reflect on what your home means to you. A place to rest your head, to shelter, but much more besides, a place to be yourself, to raise and cherish a family or loved ones, to thrive. We believe home is much more than a house; it is a place to belong. With this in mind, there is a role for each of us in meeting the challenges of growing homelessness, and we invite churches and faith groups across the country to reflect on what that means for us and how our faith calls us to act"
How to get involved
- Plan your own sermon, homily, Bible study or event by using our theological reflection and our fact sheets on Homelessness for England, Wales and Scotland. See: www.housingjustice.org.uk/Event/homeless-sunday-2018
- Request a speaker for your Homeless Sunday service (speakers are limited and dealt with on a first come first served basis)
- Send us a written reflection on what home means to you, or send us a video or picture with a short message on the same theme. Either send via firstname.lastname@example.org (mark the subject line as Homeless Sunday) or post to twitter with the hashtag #homelesssunday
- Support Housing Justice through a donation www.housingjustice.org.uk/Appeal/donate
Please remember to tell us if you plan to hold an event or make Homeless Sunday the theme for your service via email@example.com