Homeless Sunday 2017

Many churches across the UK will mark Homeless Sunday on 22 January. Falling in the cold days of January, it is a timely reminder of those members of society who – for a variety of reasons – do not have somewhere safe and warm to call home.

The Cardinal Hume Centre was founded thirty years ago in direct response to the high numbers of homeless young people sleeping on the streets and families living in inadequate bed and breakfast accommodation. The Centre has a 32 bed hostel for homeless young people, and works with people at risk of losing their homes to try and prevent them becoming homeless in the first place.

In London, over 8,000 people were found to be rough sleeping in 2015/16, a 7% increase in a single year. On any given night, the government reports that 3,569 people were found to be sleeping rough in the UK. Almost 115,000 households applied to their local authority in 2015/16 for homelessness assistance – an 11% increase since 2010/11. It is a very real, and increasing problem, for many individuals and families*.

This month, which has seen particularly low temperatures and snowfall in Rome, the Pope has asked people to remember in a special way people who are homeless.

“During these very cold days, I think of and I invite you to think of all the people who live on the streets, affected by the cold and many times by indifference… Unfortunately some didn’t make it. Let us pray for them, and let us ask the Lord to warm our hearts so as to be able to help them”.

Homeless Sunday is organised by Housing Justice and partner agencies. It is a way for the churches to demonstrate solidarity with people experiencing homelessness in the UK, to challenge the conditions that give rise to high levels of homelessness, and to celebrate the work of the churches and others in tackling homelessness, at all levels, particularly locally.

Cardinal Hume’s successor as Archbishop of Westminster and Patron of the Centre, Vincent Nichols, praised the amount of work the Church is doing with people who are homeless. Speaking at the CSAN Parliamentary Reception, he said:

“All over England and Wales, parishes and Charities offer a range of support to people who are homeless: from extensive skills training, counselling, hostels and move-on accommodation, to simply offering a hot meal and clothing to those with nowhere else to turn. Indeed, in Westminster Diocese (where the Centre is located) we calculate that in our parishes over 4 million hours of volunteers’ time are given every year.”

The Centre relies on the incredible support of over 100 volunteers who regularly give their time and care for all those who come through our doors.

For more information on Homeless Sunday visit their website.

*All statistics from Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Crisis

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