Many local churches have been supporting Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, which has coincided with one of the coldest weeks of the winter, making homeless people particularly vulnerable.
The week, from 28 January to 5 February, is organised by Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action. The theme this year is “Breaking Barriers” – barriers created by the stigma attached to being poor or homeless, and by the growing gap between the richest and poorest people in our society. The organisers hope local churches will break these barriers by challenging prejudice, enabling excluded people to live full lives, and help build a fairer world.
Some churches are holding sponsored events, or raising awareness among schoolchildren. Some ministers and lay preachers are using the theme “Breaking Barriers” in Sunday services, either on 29 January or 5 February.
Not limited to the Action Week, Christians Together in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, are providing overnight accommodation at different churches in the town on four nights a week for five weeks. On Fridays, the United Reformed Church is used for the venture. As well as a bed for the night, up to ten homeless people can get an evening meal, breakfast, and medical, housing and addiction advice.
The Revd Bob Street, who, with his wife Karen, is minister of the Tunbridge Wells group of United Reformed churches, said: “This is to test the water. Feedback has been very good and next year, we hope to operate for considerably longer. The churches in the area have really come on board. We have had up to 120 helpers available”.