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26 May 2011

Providing a home

Providing a home

Square Mile resources have been inspiring people all over the country to get stuck into their community.  We look at how one couple are reaching out to the young homeless in their town.

Janet Collins and her husband are the kind of people you feel inspired to be more like.  Looking after young people referred to them by their local homeless charity, in the last year they have hosted people on nearly 30 nights - giving those who would otherwise be sleeping rough a meal, a bed and breakfast the next day.

Following her church running sessions on the Square Mile, resources developed by the Evangelical Alliance and Community Mission, Janet heard that another couple in her church were providing shelter to young homeless people and was inspired to do the same.

"While going through the resources, we were thinking about what we could do locally and bring a benefit to the local community and following the example of a couple in our group we decided to volunteer with Nightstop."

Offering young people a place to stay for the night, Janet and her husband get referrals locally from Exeter and Exmouth depending where the need is. 

"Usually they are homeless because of breakdown in relationships whether with their parents, their girlfriend or their boyfriend, says Janet.  "We offer to youngsters who might otherwise sleep rough a place to stay for the night."

The young people referred to the couple are usually in between houses - also often caused by relationships breaking down and meaning they have no-where else to go.

"Often these young people are in between houses - what they call 'sofa surfing' going from one friend's house to the next. I guess you could say we offer a fostering service for young adults," says Janet.

"When they call they will give us a profile of the young person - whether they have drug or alcohol problems, have had a history of violence or any convictions. This gives us a chance to make a decision - we haven't turned one down so far!" she says.

Helping to inspire their church to have more outward facing mission to the community, the Square Mile resources also allowed the church to look at the local needs it could tackle:

"It helped us think about being aware of the needs in the local area and of the churches responsibility for its own patch. We have a good focus on donating to overseas mission but we also realised that we needed to do more doing than giving."

Adds Janet: "If we didn't believe God didn't love everyone we wouldn't be doing what we were doing. He has given us a second chance by His grace and so we should help others have a fuller life too."