Over the last three months I have been working with many others within the Housing Justice network and the Christian Homeless Forum to develop a ‘Charter for Christian Homeless Organisations’.
A common challenge
For many Christian agencies working with homeless and vulnerable people there is a challenge about how the Christian basis of our work relates and integrates with maintaining professional standards and best practice in social care. Often a lack of confidence within an organisation about its Christian ethos can lead to hiding or diluting the very faith motivation which was was the reason the work began.
What’s the aim of the Charter?
The aim of this charter is to articulate and encourage an integration between best practice in the services we offer to homeless and vulnerable people and a confident expression of Christian ethos. Its primary audience is for those outside the Church, such as local authorities or funders who want to know how the Christian ethos relates to the work. We hope that organisations will sign up to it as a guide to show others how they operate.
Over the last 3 months, we have had a lot of discussions with lots of helpful feedback from many individuals, organisations and churches – especially via the Christian Homeless Forum. We are particuarly pleased that people from a wide range of theological perspectives have been both positive about the concept and the wording. Obviously nothing will cover all bases but we hope it will be helpful.
We are very grateful to Faithworks for their generous help in the process and Housing Justice will be producing the actual charter and will be coordinating its circulation and sign up process. It will be launched at their AGM in London on November 17th.
Below is a copy of the Charter wording:
Charter for Christian Homeless Agencies
This Charter has been produced in association with Housing Justice and Faithworks
We are Christian organisations who provide services for people who are homeless. This charter has been put together to encourage an integration between best practice in the services we offer to homeless and vulnerable people and a confident expression of Christian ethos.
The vision of Housing Justice is of a society where everyone has access to a home that truly meets their needs.
- the physical , mental and emotional vulnerability of many of those we serve through our work
- the need for all services for vulnerable people to be transparent and open in the way they operate and to avoid any ‘hidden agendas’ or ‘strings attached’ to the practical care we offer
- the way that some work for homeless people done by some Christian organisations has at times been conditional and that faith has been imposed upon those seeking help
- that the Christian faith is at the heart of the ethos and motivations of our organisation and remains the central reason for why we offer the services we do
- that being openly and positively Christian is not the same as being coercive or conditional
- that secular culture can put pressure on Christian organisations to downplay the role of faith
- the validity and relevance of offering opportunities for those we serve to explore the Christian faith and the belief that this can be done in a transparent and non-coercive way
We commit to:
1. Providing an inclusive service to people affected by homelessness and associated issues and not making any of the practical help we provide conditional on involvement in any spiritual activities.
2. Serving and respecting all people regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation or physical and mental ability.
3. Acknowledging the freedom of people of all faiths or none both to hold and to express their beliefs and convictions respectfully and freely, within the limits of the UK law.
4. Modelling and sharing the Christian faith through what we do, what we say and how we conduct ourselves.
5. Developing partnerships with other churches, voluntary groups, statutory agencies and local government wherever appropriate in order to create an effective, integrated service for our clients
We will value all individuals in a way that is consistent with our distinctive Christian ethos by:
1. Creating an environment where those we serve, as well as our volunteers and employees are encouraged, challenged and enabled to realise their potential.
2. Assisting those we serve, our volunteers and our employees to take responsibility for their own learning, development and personal growth.
3. Developing a culture where comments and complaints are properly listened to so that improvements can be made and excellence and innovation are encouraged.
4. Promoting the value of a balanced, holistic lifestyle as part of each person’s overall personal development.
5. Abiding by the requirements of employment law in the UK and implementing best employment practices and procedures designed to maintain our distinctive ethos and values.
We will develop a professional approach to management, practice and funding by:
1. Implementing management and support structure for all staff and volunteers which fosters and encourages participation at all levels in order to facilitate the fulfilment of our service’s goals and visions.
2. Implementing best practice procedures in terms of Health and Safety and Safeguarding in order to protect our staff, volunteers and clients.
3. Handling our funding in a transparent and accountable way and giving relevant people from outside our organisation/project reasonable access to our accounts.
4. Ensuring that all materials used to promote our organisation’s work portray those who use our services in a sensitive way and that the permission of those featured will always be sought before being used for these purposes.
NAME OF ORGANISATION…………………………………………………………………….
Motivated by our Christian faith we commit ourselves to the standards set out in this Charter:
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