149 Homeless People RememberedHJ LOGO

The names of 149 homeless and formerly homeless people, who have died over the last year in London, were remembered at the annual service of commemoration at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Thursday, 6 November.

‘Consider the Lilies was the theme of this year’s service, with a lily to represent every life lost. People attending the service were invited to take a lily and plant it in front of the altar as a tribute to their life.

The service, organised by The Connection at St Martin’s, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Housing Justice, brings together everyone who wants to remember those who have died during the year, whether still on the streets, in hostels or people who have moved in to accommodation after being homeless. 

Sleeping rough has long term detrimental effects to your health and the average age of death is 47 years, compared to 77 years for the general population*. People who have experienced homelessness die younger than they should, even once they have moved in to accommodation.

Stuart was homeless and with support from The Connection at St Martin’s is now housed and volunteering. He has been going to the service for 7 years. “The purpose of the service is to remember the person and not just a number. It’s about people with names, not numbers. The names are read out but you also hear some of the stories of what happened to people. It’s nice when they talk about a certain person. Nobody in this world should be homeless. That’s one of the hardest things about it.” 

Rev Richard Carter of St Martin in the Fields led the service. Richard said “The theme this year was “Consider the Lilies” from the gospel of Matthew, which speaks to us about the eternal worth of each human life. I think it is particularly appropriate that this service should be in St Martin’s on the edge of Trafalgar Square, in the centre of London in the week of remembrance. It is our prayer that those who may have often felt “outsiders” may be remembered at the heart of this city, and in a church which celebrates the inclusive love of God for all. 100 years ago in 2014 Dick Sheppard opened up St Martin’s to those returning from the front line and who had been deeply affected by the events they had been through in the war and were seeking peace and sanctuary and to remember and come to terms with all those who had died so tragically. At this service we remember those who have died in the last year who have been homeless or have known homelessness. Their stories also need to be remembered and heard.”

There were a series of readings, moving musical performances from Streetwise Opera and the Choir with no Name. The names of those who have died were read out by representatives from some of the many services helping homeless people in London and prayers were said to remember and give thanks for each individual’s life

Photos from the service are here 
 
The Connection at St Martin's helps thousands of homeless people in central London re-build their lives away from the streets. Services include a day and night centre, street outreach for rough sleepers, skills training and employment service and advice & housing. 
 
Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action to prevent homelessness and bad housing. Our vision is of a society where everyone has access to a home that truly meets their needs.

Housing Justice was formed in April 2003 by the merger of two long-standing housing charities, the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) and the Churches National Housing Coalition (CNHC). In January 2006 Housing Justice merged with UNLEASH (Church Action on Homelessness in London). Housing Justice brings together more than 60 years’ experience of working for change in the field of housing.
 
St Martin-in-the-Fields is a vibrant church located in the heart of London’s Trafalgar Square.  Its history dates back to at least 1222 and its ethos of welcome, inclusivity and taking a stand on complex issues continues to this day. The restored  Georgian and modern architecture are a backdrop for 20 services each week, for regular concert series and education programmes, a shop and brass rubbing and the Café in the Crypt.
 

 
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