Did you know that the life expectancy of rough sleepers is 30 years shorter than for the rest of the population?* And that just over half of UK nationals living on the streets are in need of support for a mental health problem?
Living in a situation of violence, in a poor or overcrowded condition, or in a place where you have no rights to stay all count as homelessness. One in ten people in England say they have experienced some form of this, and the numbers are growing…
In 2016 there were as many as 4,134 people sleeping rough on any one night in England. This figure has risen every year since 2010**.
Homelessness is about so much more than being without food and shelter. Homes are places of relationship and identity, where people can feel at peace and develop a sense of self-worth. Many of us can identify with this and when we think of home, feelings of comfort and safety, of protection and love, are conjured up.
Through our Together Programme (partnerships with Church of England Diocese) and the work we are doing with people experiencing homelessness, the overwhelming importance of building relationships continually jumps out at us. Yes, it’s important to provide food and shelter, but as humans we need more than this. That’s why our night shelters, and the work we do supporting people living on the streets or “sofa-surfing”, is about building community and relationships. We walk alongside the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society and find solutions to problems: we make support plans, we support people into work and permanent accommodation, we seek to bring out the best in all those who come to us for shelter. This is something we know the church is particularly good at and we could not do this without the support of churches and church goers across England.
When you raise money through the Advent Sleepout Challenge you are supporting the kind of night shelters that offer friendship and a warm welcome, and a route out of homelessness.
So go on, do something really meaningful this Advent. Take the Advent Sleepout Challenge today, register here.
*You can find out more about the health needs of people experiencing homelessness here http://www.homeless.org.uk/facts/homelessness-in-numbers/health-needs-audit-explore-data