On 22 January 2017, Christian communities across the UK marked Homeless Sunday. This annual event in the churches’ calendar provides a focus for recalling the biblical imperative to give shelter to people without a home.
To support this year’s event, ‘Action and Advocacy: a Christian response to homelessness’, was published. The statement, coordinated by Housing Justice and signed by the Bishop of Rochester and national charities, attempts to unite the voices of Christian organisations engaged in work on homelessness. The signatories aim for better partnership work with Government at national and local levels, to improve responses to homelessness. In practice the statement calls on the Government to engage in regular meetings with Housing Justice and other partners, and to deliver a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to address homelessness in England.
Housing Justice, in partnership with the other signatories, has called on local churches to adopt this statement as a sign of grass-roots support. Churches wishing to sign up can do so on the Housing Justice website.
Welcoming publication of the statement, Housing Justice Chief Executive, Alison Gelder said:
“Born out of a symposium-style event in Parliament in the Autumn, ‘Action and Advocacy: a Christian response to homelessness’ is a call for the churches and the Government to seek strong relationships in the days, weeks and months ahead.
As the statement acknowledges, the state of homelessness in England and Wales is an absolute tragedy and it is now time for a more cooperative strategy to developed, with input from and in active partnership with, the churches.
Publishing this statement this morning as churches mark Homeless Sunday and also in the same week in which, we hope, the Homelessness Reduction Bill will be debated for the third time, shows a strong commitment from leading Christian homelessness organisations intentionally to unite to take part in addressing the challenges before us.
This is a timely statement and I hope Government will sit up and take notice of the pledge of the churches. But also that the churches will recognise their calling to be part of the national conversation which now needs to take place.”