and the Church’s response
Homelessness is an issue that affects every village, town and city across the UK, and is increasing every year. With changes to the benefits system, an uncertain and sometimes volatile employment market, and a greater complexity to mental health conditions, the reasons for someone becoming homeless are never ‘black and white’ and contribute to an ever-growing and changing need for help and intervention. The Church has always been on the forefront of helping those who find themselves homeless, by running its own projects and supporting other organisations. Find out below how you can help.
Open Church and Open Doors Projects
These two projects help people affected by homelessness and crisis during the coldest time of the year - January, February and March. Overnight accommodation and hot nutritious meals are provided within churches in Portsmouth and Gosport, as well as friendship and support for people who are experiencing homelessness. A different church will host a dozen or so guests each night of the week. There's a warm welcome in each venue, a hot meal, comfortable and warm clean bedding (provided by each church) and a peaceful night’s sleep. In the morning there's a simple breakfast (tea and toast) and guests depart by 8am.
Open Church is happening in Portsmouth for the third winter in a row, while Open Doors is a similar project in Gosport. Both are being run in 2019-20 by Caritas, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, but include churches of all denominations. All of the venues are churches but there is no agenda to preach to the guests, and prayer is only offered when requested. Guests can be of any faith or none and their wishes and beliefs are respected at all times.
Inspired by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:38-40, St Simon’s Church, Southsea, open their doors every Sunday at 6pm to welcome people who maybe homeless, vulnerable and lonely.
They welcome people to come and share a simple meal, doing this in place of their evening service. St Simon’s has been practicing this hospitality every single Sunday for nearly 30 years.
Churches Homeless Action
Churches Homeless Action is a voluntary group of homelessness organisations and Churches that works to ensure that homelessness issues are kept on the churches’ agenda in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire.
They support local homelessness services and charities through our annual Christmas appeal which has been running since 2003. Over the last 15 years they have raised more than £110,000, all of which has gone directly to homeless people.
Their Christmas Appeal is launched in the autumn each year where they ask for donations of £5 gift vouchers or cards from stores such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Argos. The vouchers are then sent directly to supported homelessness charities and services that are based in the Portsmouth area.
For more information, to get in involved in helping the homeless or if your church or group would like a speaker from a CHA supported organisation, email email@example.com or visit churcheshomelessaction.org.
Friday Fridge is the name given to the weekly get-togethers, late on Friday nights, at St Jude's Church, Southsea. The idea was to give those who were out late at night free coffee, bacon sandwiches or cheese toasties, and the chance to meet others and enjoy a spiritual chillout. All are welcome, and the group has recently attracted those with addictions, mental health problems or housing issues. The group meets on the first three Fridays of each month, from 9pm-11pm.