Churches play vital part in tackling homelessness and housing need
More than 70 people from churches, homeless charities, and others working with people at risk of homelessness met yesterday in Manchester at the Housing Justice Roadshow. The event, Your Church and the Housing Crisis, was held at Salford Cathedral Centre, in partnership with CARITAS Salford and The Booth Centre.
Bishop John Arnold in welcoming everyone to the event said: “The gulf between the richest and poorest of our communities becomes ever more evident. This speaks loudly and clearly of a fundamental injustice which needs to be addressed. Housing and the security of having a home must be among our priorities. It is an urgent need.”
Alison Gelder, CEO of Housing Justice, said: “Homelessness is increasing and, as a country, we are not building enough new homes to meet our needs. Whatever the outcome of the general election next month, Churches have resources of buildings, land and volunteers – and a Christian duty to bring them to bear to tackle the problems in their communities. Today has been about letting people know what can be achieved and firing them up to go out and make a difference.
Amanda Croome, CEO of the Booth Centre, spoke of the growing need in Manchester: “Street homelessness is increasing across Greater Manchester at an alarming rate and with more funding cuts to vital services in the pipeline the numbers are likely to increase further. We cannot rely on local or central Government to solve this problem on its own. Every community needs to work together to help to try and prevent and alleviate homelessness in their local area. This event has shown that this is possible in Manchester and we are looking forward to seeing the difference we can make when we all work together.”
As well as people from churches of all denominations from Manchester and other parts of the country there were representatives from local and statutory authorities as well as national Christian charities including Church Action on Poverty, Green Pastures, Hope into Action and the National No Accommodation Network.
Delegates heard about the depth of the housing crisis and increasing poverty in the community from: Mark Wiggin of Caritas Salford; the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford, the Rt. Revd. John Arnold; Alison Gelder of Housing Justice; Amanda Croome of the Booth Centre and Chair of Manchester Multi-agency Homeless Forum.
Workshops were held on: Church and Community Night Shelters; Using church property and land for affordable housing; Mentoring and befriending formerly homeless people; responding to the humanitarian needs of the growing numbers of people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action on homelessness and housing need. The Manchester Roadshow is one of a series of events Housing Justice is organizing around the country to encourage and support churches to be part of the housing solution and to work in partnership with others.
The next Housing Justice Roadshow will take place in Exeter on 18th June.