Hector is a gritty and moving road-movie about a homeless man travelling from Scotland to London for Christmas. It is tough to watch in parts, but is also heart-warming and brilliantly acted. It avoids sentimentalising the characters or the subject matter. Peter Mullan’s acting is gentle and under-stated in the title-role. As the film unfolds… Continue reading A little bit of hope can go a long way – review of ‘Hector’ (15)
Almost all homeless charities in the UK have their roots in the Church. Some are obvious, such as The Salvation Army, West London Mission, Cardinal Hume Centre, Providence Row, Emmaus, The Church Army and many others. Less people are aware that organisations like Shelter, the YMCA and Centrepoint were also established by church leaders and… Continue reading Faith and homelessness: the further back you look, the further forward you can see…
This coming week is my last at the West London Mission (WLM) after 8½ years leading their work with people affected by homelessness, poverty and trauma. It has been a deeply rewarding job. I have worked alongside many brilliant people and WLM has travelled a long way. In term of this blog, it has been… Continue reading Faith in addressing homelessness: reflections on leaving WLM
There are now over 100 night shelter schemes in the country where groups of churches work together to provide accommodation - last year these schemes helped an estimated 3000 homeless people. Alongside this there are the many soup kitchens, drop in centres and huge amount of informal one-to-one support that many church communities provide. But… Continue reading Bridging the gap between churches and professionals: the complexity of compassion #3
One of the most important truths I have learnt from the last 25 years of working with people is this: we cannot change other people unless they want to change. Its important that we remember this truth because helping people with complex problems is in itself complex. Accepting this reality helps us avoid the twin… Continue reading Carrying burdens, maintaining boundaries: the complexity of compassion #2
When I was in my twenties, I lived in Kings Cross and went to a local church. There, I got to know a man who was a former crack addict - we'll call him Ian. He was doing his best to put his life back together and get into work as a painter and decorator.… Continue reading The need for grace and truth: the complexity of compassion #1
Every Tuesday at WLM's centre for homeless people at Seymour Place in central London, we have a Spirituality Discussion Group for our homeless clients. Even though membership of the group changes frequently, the group decides themselves the topics it wants to discuss. Its one the highlights of my job when I am invited to lead… Continue reading What are the best ways of helping people?