Homelessness

Bridging the gap between churches and professionals: the complexity of compassion #3

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

Homelessness

Carrying burdens, maintaining boundaries: the complexity of compassion #2

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

Homelessness

The need for grace and truth: the complexity of compassion #1

When I was in my twenties, I lived in Kings Cross in London and was a member of 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 work as a painter… Continue reading The need for grace and truth: the complexity of compassion #1

Homelessness

What are the best ways of helping people?

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?

Homelessness

Homelessness: have we lost our Christianity in our caring? 24th April, central London

Christian distinctiveness in helping people who are homeless Many churches acknowledge the importance of helping people who are homeless. Nationwide there are over 100 Night Shelter networks and churches make up the vast majority of the venues. Also many of the larger, established homeless agencies have Christian roots. But, confidently integrating faith alongside our practical… Continue reading Homelessness: have we lost our Christianity in our caring? 24th April, central London

Homelessness, Personal

My cousin and the bitter cost of drug addiction

This weekend, I was on the BBC1 programme Sunday Morning Live discussing homelessness and begging. I was on the programme because I disagree with the view of journalist Matt Broomfield who believes people should give 'directly and unconditionally' to people who are begging. Experience  My views on this issue have been shaped by 20 years of working… Continue reading My cousin and the bitter cost of drug addiction

Homelessness

No one can take steps for others on the hard road of recovery

My daughter and I have just got back from WLM's Sleep Out held last night in the grounds of St James’ Church, Piccadilly. It was an uplifting evening. 82 supporters gave up their bed for the night to sleep out and (so far) we have raised £35,000 for our work to bring rough sleepers in from… Continue reading No one can take steps for others on the hard road of recovery

Homelessness

Hope in action (even if you’re little you can do a lot)

Recently I was contacted by a Mum whose 5 year old daughter wanted to do something to help homeless people. What struck me was that their family situation is not at all easy - the daughter has additional needs and the family don't have a permanent home themselves at the moment and are staying with relatives.… Continue reading Hope in action (even if you’re little you can do a lot)

Homelessness

A soft-touch? Why Christians need to stop being doormats

My recent article on Why Pope Francis is wrong about begging was re-posted on the popular Christian blog Psephizo and a number of church leaders commented on the challenge that this issue poses for them. It again reminded me of how churches, vicarages and manses are at the front line of this issue because of… Continue reading A soft-touch? Why Christians need to stop being doormats

Homelessness

‘Dossers’ who choose to sleep rough and the ‘professional weepers’ who care: ‘The Sun’ on homelessness in 1990

I was clearing out some old paperwork this week at the West London Mission and I found some fascinating old newspaper clippings relating to homelessness. One clipping particularly struck me. It was from The Sun, March 1990. It starts: IT's time we stopped feeling guilty about the plight of dossers sleeping rough on our streets.  Professional weepers… Continue reading ‘Dossers’ who choose to sleep rough and the ‘professional weepers’ who care: ‘The Sun’ on homelessness in 1990