People who are homeless – and volunteers who help them – will be the focus of church services across the country next month.
Homeless Sunday, on October 13, is a chance for people to show solidarity with those experiencing homelessness and to reflect and plan practical action to help them.
The focus this year is ‘The impact of volunteering on the volunteer’, apt as Christians and church communities are at the forefront of the response to the rise in homelessness including the most visible aspect, rough sleeping.
Figures from the charity Housing Justice show the number of night shelters operating across its network have almost doubled in the past six years to 125, with church and community Night Shelters currently operating in eight Welsh local authorities.
Homeless Sunday comes at the start of the night shelter season, allowing it to be marked in prayer.
Archbishop John is urging all churches in Wales to take part. He said: “Tragically the sight of people sleeping rough has now become the norm in many cities and towns, and setting up night shelters for those with nowhere else to go in the winter months is an increasing part of our churches’ mission.
“Homeless Sunday is a chance for us to focus on this bleak fact – to pray and act for those who have nowhere to call home and to offer unconditional support for our volunteers who help them. We also give thanks for the blessings that volunteering can bring and hope that more people will be inspired to get involved.”
Sharon Lee, Director of Housing Justice Cymru, said: “We hope that more churches than ever before will join us this year to show solidarity with those who are experiencing life without a place to call home.
“As the faith community becomes more and more involved in the relief of homelessness, it is also fitting that we reflect about the impact volunteering has on the volunteer and air this subject and consider how those who work tirelessly to help can also be supported within the faith community.”
All forms of homelessness have increased by four per cent since 2017. There are around 320,000 families homeless in Britain. Roughly 36 households become homeless every day. In Wales the picture is mixed, but showing a general upward trend year on year for both homelessness and rough sleeping. In the Autumn of 2018, it was found that 158 people were sleeping rough in Wales. Since 2015 the number of individuals sleeping rough in Wales has increased by 193%.
Resources for church services can be found at https://www.housingjustice.org.uk/news/news