This winter we are providing 4,300 bed spaces in night shelters across England. We talk about this a lot because we want you to understand how an Advent Sleepout Challenge event contributes towards getting people off the streets. 4,300 is a good number but it doesn’t convey all that we do.
In Canterbury our Together Network is working alongside local charities on a campaign called Break the Cycle. They aim to stop the cycle between prison and homelessness by getting ex-prisoners into available church based housing in the Diocese of Canterbury.
Breaking the cycle
Through working with prison release teams, local charities, and those within the diocese, Together Canterbury have been able to make a path for people leaving prison, giving them a chance to integrate back into society successfully, as a part of a community and not as a person on the street. Together Canterbury are giving people a new start. People leaving prison and moving into church-based housing will have a route into the local community thanks to local church goers.
The project is shaping up to be a great success. There’s real hope that lives will be changed as this cycle is broken.
Why should we have hope for ex-prisoners?
The project is being kicked off by the excellent Dean Stalham (pictured above with Together Canterbury’s Keith Berry). At CUF we believe that everyone has talents that they can contribute. Dean is a case in point. He left school with no qualifications, grew up on a tough council estate and has spent two years in prison for various offences.
In prison, Dean developed an interest in art in lots of forms. Since leaving Dean has taken on various pieces of work in the art world and is currently funded by the Royal Literary Society to write and run social enterprises.
Dean has written and produced Barred, a play that focuses on mental health issues for prisoners and how art and education can be a means of rehabilitation for prisoners. The play is being shown as a fundraiser for the Break the Cycle project, which could not be more fitting, as Dean is an example of exactly why the project should run.
People leaving prison can contribute wonderful things to our society, just like Dean. When you take part in the Advent Sleepout Challenge you are contributing to work like the Break the Cycle project, which allows people to escape homelessness and become contributing members of communities across England.