Churches Launch Advent Calendar that Focuses on the Homeless
Churches are offering people an advent calendar with a difference this Christmas to highlight the plight of the homeless
Launched under the banner No Place Like Home, the interactive calendar focuses on the issue of housing against the backdrop of the nativity story, aiming to raise awareness about the increased threat of homelessness and poverty in the UK.
Bible reflections and action points are hidden behind the calendar's windows which reflect the campaign's four key themes: housing, affordability, stigmatisation and the Christmas story. People can keep up to date with the calendar by following No Place Like Home on Tumblr and Twitter.
The Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain are all backing the campaign.
At the Methodist Conference in Plymouth this summer, Methodists voted to establish a group to look into policy on affordable housing, assist Circuits and Districts in the local management of housing resources and help people who are homeless.
James North, policy adviser for the Methodist Church, said, ''Britain is in the midst of a housing crisis. Millions of families still search for a safe, affordable home, while numbers of homeless people accessing services, such as those provided by Methodism's Whitechapel Mission to the Homeless, continue to rise.
'Many churches provide day centres and night shelters and, following the government's spending cuts, they must maintain and increase their support.
'But the chronic shortage of homes is a broader issue. I hope this calendar inspires Churches and individuals to 'make room at the inn' and continue working to ensure that everybody has a decent home.'
Rudi Richardson, founder of Streetlytes-UK - a charity helping homeless people and people with drug and alcohol problems, explained the importance of hospitality for someone who is homeless.
'I have been homeless in the UK, in the States and in Germany. I was homeless for seven years. Homelessness starts way before you are physically homeless - there is a disconnect that is unresolved.
'You internalise those feelings and that is the problem. Homelessness is a spiritual problem too. I believe that the gift of hospitality is so important to the self-esteem of the homeless person.
'We are already broken anyway and we need to know that we are loved.'