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Six ways you and your church can help rough-sleepers this winter  

14 December 2018


Waldemar, one of the users of the Open Church shelter in Portsmouth, gets ready for bed at St Simon’s, Southsea

Waldemar, one of the users of the Open Church shelter in Portsmouth, gets ready for bed at St Simon’s, Southsea

AS THE number of those sleeping rough continues to rise, more and more Church of England congregations are thinking about what they can do to try to alleviate the crisis.

Here are six ways in which congregations can make a difference:

  1. Look at what your area needs. There is no point in starting up a soup run if there is already plentiful provision in your area. Ask your local authority if you are unsure what would be most useful.

  2. Donate money. While it is generally not advised by homeless charities to give directly to those sleeping rough, organisations such as the Churches Homeless Trust use donations to help people get out of homelessness: they pay for deposits, or buy things such as work clothes or bikes that give people the facilities they need to gain employment.

  3. If your area needs it, set up or financially support a homeless shelter. This could be as an individual church, or in collaboration with other churches, as cities such as Portsmouth have done. Take advice from your local authority, and consult organisations such as Housing Justice to ensure that everything is set up correctly.

  4. Encourage your congregation to befriend homeless people, and offer to go with those living on the street to the council to find out what support they can get. Often people who are sleeping rough can feel too isolated and intimidated to ask for support.

  5. Put up posters in areas where rough sleepers will see them, detailing the local services available to homeless people.

  6. Order some “How to help homeless people” leaflets from the Churches Homeless Trust, and distribute them at services so that people are aware of the best ways to help homeless people.


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