Photo Sleeping Rough by Steven J Lilley (sk8geek) Licensed under CC

Homelessness: The 21st-century problem

Homelessness, in every sense of the word, is turning out to be the defining problem of the 21st century.

Current estimates put the number of homeless people in the world at 100 million. Most have been driven from their homes by violence, poverty, or famine and are living in refugee camps, on the streets, or making dangerous and costly journeys to safer countries such as Britain.

Yet in England, one of the richest countries on earth, thousands of people are sleeping rough on the streets every night. And they are just the tip of the iceberg – there are hundreds of thousands of people sleeping in parks or abandoned buildings, on night buses, or on friends’ sofas. Perhaps as many as two million people in England are living in unsuitable or unaffordable accommodation.

But a home is not just a roof over your head. Homeless people need a place to belong; earn a living; settle and raise a family; a place to be known and loved. Without a secure home, it is very difficult to thrive and become all that we humans were created to be.

We all need to belong

It is not enough to provide housing; people also need friendship and purpose. We need to be part of a community. Perhaps this is why so many homeless people in England turn to their local church for help.

It is often hard for churches to know how to help homeless people break the cycle of homelessness and find a home. Every homeless person’s circumstances are different, and the journey from sleeping rough to finding a home is often long and difficult.

We have updated our free guide, ‘How to Help Homeless People’, to help clergy and congregations to understand the issues affecting homeless people and find the appropriate local services to help them.

You can download the new ‘How to Help Homeless People’ booklet here or order more materials using the form below.

An increasing number of people in England are losing their homes for many reasons, such as benefit sanctions, a lack of housing, mental or physical illness, job loss, bereavement, relationship breakdown, addiction, and rent arrears.

It can be really hard to help homeless people in a lasting way, particularly those who have been on the street for a long time and have mental health or addiction problems. However, we know from our work that it is possible for people who are completely isolated and despondent to rediscover a sense of self and purpose, and establish a home and a place in society.

Please get involved with World Homeless Week

World Homeless Week is an opportunity for you and your church to learn more about the issues that create and perpetuate homelessness in England, and what practical help you can give to homeless people. You can also choose to raise funds for homeless people across England.

If you would like to get involved, use the form below to order free World Homeless Week materials.

Every week Church Housing Trust gives away approximately £6,000 in grants to homeless people.

The amounts are small, but are used to pay for exactly what each individual needs, whether it be smart clothes for an interview, a training course, or a fridge for their new home; items and activities for which there is no government help available. For people who have so little these grants, and the care they represent, are life changing.

Over the past six months the demand for our support has increased by 50% as the number of homeless people grows and government assistance diminishes. We know that many churches already support local homelessness schemes, while some run their own. However, if you and your congregation are able to make a donation to us we would be very grateful, as this would enable us to meet the growing demand for our help.

Thank you for your support.

World Homeless Week items

  • Please enter which items you would like, and in what quantities: 'How To Help Homeless People' booklet; A4 Porch Poster; Resources for worship; Gift Aid envelopes; Activities for children and young people; World Homeless Week leaflets; Information about Church Housing Trust; Collection box; Fundraising ideas worksheet.