10 August 2012
Housing the homeless
A project which encourages churches to provide homes for the homeless has been nominated for an Inspire Award.
Hope Into Action, based in Peterborough, was set up to help the vulnerable in the community and particularly ex-prisoners.
After working for an international development charity in disaster areas for a number of years, Ed Walker returned to the UK and felt that something needed to be done to help the Church engage with homeless people.
"I was struck by how the root cause of poverty in this country was relational – a lack of relationships and love in their lives," he said.
Ed added that he felt the Church needed to do better at not just 'giving to' or 'working with' those on the edge of society, but engaging with them relationally.
So Hope Into Action works by investing in houses to provide homes for up to two vulnerable people, and also encourages and equips churches to do the same.
The project hopes to show the tenants that they are very much valued, which is why each tenant has two rooms for their exclusive use to make it feel like a home rather than a bedsit. The houses are also bought in safe areas of the community, away from influences that might be a hindrance to the tenants.
The houses are also equipped with modern appliances. "We have seen that providing quality actually builds their self-esteem and sense of self-worth," he said. "We have had grown men cry when they see the fridge and one female tenant broke down in tears of gratitude. We like to think, in a tiny way, this reflects something of Christ's desire to give life in abundance."
Each of the homes is linked with a church to provide relationship. So far around 13 churches in the region are supporting a house.
Ed said: "One of my most inspiring moments was meeting our first client and seeing him develop such that he has re-confirmed his baptismal vows in the church that supported him, and works for us full-time.
"Another highlight was seeing a homeless couple (both ex-addicts and ex-offenders) move out of one of our homes into private rented accommodation with their baby. They were happy, grateful and living responsible lives."
The Evangelical Alliance is again running the Inspire Awards in collaboration with Inspire magazine, to recognise and celebrate the projects and individuals who are being good news in their communities.