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 engaging volunteers, raising funds and donating resources to lead their own outreaches, and support other organistations, to the homeless in our diocese.
Fnid out how you can get involved by connecting with one or more of the organisations and outreaches listed here.
Open Church Project
The Open Church project is an eight-week scheme to serve 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, as well as friendship and support for people who are experiencing homelessness. A different church will host 12 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.
The scheme is a rolling shelter, located at a different venue each night of the week. 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. The teams enabling the Open Church Project in each church consist of volunteers from the congregations involved as well as community members, of any faith or non. Guests are referred to the project by The Society of St James (SSJ) - walk-ins are not allowed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit churcheshomelessaction.org.