Sleep out highlights homelessness rise
A charity which provides homes for the most vulnerable in society in partnership with local churches is running its annual sleep out this Friday (14 October) - amid growing levels of homelessness
In addition Hope into Action founder and chief executive Ed Walker, a member of Bretton Baptist Church in Peterborough, has decided to jog 50 miles through some of the highest peaks in the Lake District.
The award-winning charity now has 37 homes across the country which offer longer term accommodation and support to nearly 130 homeless people. Each house is in partnership with a church who offer pastoral and spiritual support.
This is the third year it has hosted its Big Sleep Out: taking place on Friday from 7pm to 7am, people from across the city and from all walks of life will sleep rough for one night to highlight the plight of the homeless and raise money for the charity.
‘This is a great chance for local people to come together and try for one night what over 3,500 people in England have to do every night,’ Ed said.
‘We are not pretending that one night sleeping out is anything like what homeless people have to face.
‘Homelessness is more than not having a roof, it is an isolating and destructive experience and homeless people are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society.’
The work is more essential than ever, with homelessness is on the increase for a variety of reasons. Cuts in direct and support services have played their role (four homeless services / charities have gone bust in Peterborough alone in the past four years, said Ed, while services such as mental health lead to a broader safety net, are also suffering from funding cuts).
Also contributing to the increase is the housing crisis, with affordable homes harder to come by, and high prison levels.
This has seen the ministry of Hope Into Action – which offers homes to people of every faith or no faith – grow. In 2015 it had 28 houses in eight cities.
‘We are delighted by the number of churches stepping up and being up for serving the poorest in our communities,’ Ed said, ‘wanting to do it in a long-term, relational, loving, empowering, spiritual way.'
Ed completed his run in the Lake District on Saturday. He said, ‘I love the outdoors and the lakes, I am not, however, a runner or fitness freak. When this chance came up however I thought it would be such fun to spend a day walking through the lakes.
‘I hadn’t realized quite how tough it would be!’
The charity is hoping to beat the £10,000 it raised last year.
"The church is central to this model. We believe church can bring something unique and brilliant (acceptance, love, prayer and community) to the lives of the homeless."