CEO Blog – World Homeless Day

Homeless Jesus

World Homeless Day provides an opportunity for us all to talk about a truth that many of us in the UK don’t perhaps want to face…

Tonight, people in the 7th richest in the world will have no bed to sleep in or roof over their head; and an increasing number of people are forced to live in utterly inadequate places which are bad for their health and wellbeing and their children’s development.

‘Homeless Jesus’, a controversial sculpture by Thomas Schmaltz depicts a figure huddled under a blanket on a park bench. It is only when you get closer that you see the stigmata on his feet. The sculpture, like many of the people who seek our help, is looking for a permanent home.

Pope Francis with a model of the sculpture.
Pope Francis with a model of the sculpture.

I was asked for my opinion on the sculpture and potential sites during an interview on Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme. I think the sculpture is an excellent way to highlight homelessness – an uncomfortable way maybe but powerful nonetheless.

My first thought on where such a stunning sculpture should go is of course Westminster Cathedral Piazza, here in central London. I say of course because it was the high numbers of homeless people sleeping out on the Piazza and across central London every night that first inspired Cardinal Hume to set up the Centre and other charities.

Today it’s not quite so visible but homelessness is on the increase despite everyone’s efforts; and yes there are people sleeping on and around the Piazza today, 28 years after the Cardinal founded us. So it seems apt to place it there.

Would the homeless community feel demeaned? Insulted? It would seem sensible to ask them before any decision is made. Too often we form opinions about different categories of people without bothering to check in with them. We objectify ‘the homeless’ forgetting they are individual human beings – it’s easier that way.

My second thought is somewhere counter cultural, in Canary Wharf or Canada Square for example – but would he even be noticed there?  That community seems too engrossed in their frenetic lives that I wonder whether they would see him.

And my third thought is in Westminster Hall where politicians would walk by and be reminded that there are consequences to the policies and laws they introduce – human consequences.

In the end I would like to see the sculpture placed where it cannot be ignored; where it could serve as a constant reminder to the unacceptable truth that our society allows homelessness to exist.

On Monday night I will be taking part in the CEO Sleepout to raise money for the Centre and help prevent more people falling into homelessness.

While sleeping out for this one night does not compare to the reality those people are facing day in and day out, believe me it will be an act of genuine solidarity.

Please sponsor me and help send the message that homelessness and poverty should simply not exist in the modern world.

Thank you very much.

Cathy Corcoran OBE
Chief Executive, Cardinal Hume Centre

On the 13th October Cathy will be sleeping out in the open with just a sleeping bag for warmth. She has set herself an ambitious fundraising target of £10,000. Please help her achieve her goal.

Sponsor me





Photo taken from artist’s website: