Church of England

How the Church of England is helping the homeless

It’s #GoodNewsFriday, so here’s a bit about what the Church of England is doing for the homeless:

Laudable.

Of course, more could always be done.

Like opening up the nation’s cathedrals and churches to offer shelter to all those who are homeless and destitute.

Why do we only do this in the bleak midwinter?

To save deans and vergers a few headaches? To guard valuables? Protect structures? Spare volunteers?

Hm…

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    I think we all know the answer to this. Cathedrals and churches are not in fact designed as accommodation, nor should they be used for this purpose. The good will of local volunteers is all very well; but this is actually a public policy issue.

    We have a problem with homelessness in this country, as an unintended result of government policy since the late 1980s. This was originally caused, as I recall, by removing benefits from kids 16-18, thereby forcing them onto the streets. Today we also have significant numbers of illegal immigrants doing the same.

    The homelessness problem needs to be addressed at root, by those who caused it. We need to expel the illegals, and do something to house the others. We pay stupendous amounts of tax, so the problem is not in fact financial.

    • IanCad

      I must admit Bruin, that I didn’t think foreigners were any significant part of the homeless total, and thought some unnecessary insularity was displayed in your post.
      How wrong I was! – it happens – and HG’s in the bleak midwinter link has put me to rights.

      • Demon Teddy Bear

        I was told by a local charity organiser it’s about 15%. But I’d have thought it’s an inevitable consequence of open borders and lots of cheap casual labour that some will sleep rough between gigs.

        • IanCad

          If you click on HG’s In the bleak midwinter link you will see it says 49%.

          • Demon Teddy Bear

            I wasn’t able to get it to open earlier. But it’s believable.

        • Dodgy Geezer

          There is no way to determine an accurate number for homeless, rough sleepers, or indeed immigrants in general.

          The figures that are talked about will be estimates from people who have an interest in the matter – charities and opposition politicians who want to exaggerate the numbers to increase the shock effect, governments who want to downplay the figures to ‘prove’ that their policies work – you need not expect a balanced viewpoint from any quarter…

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        I have no idea what %age of foreigners are homeless and whether that is greater or less than their %age of the overall population.

        However the large & rapid level of immigration[1] must have an impact on the availability of housing and the financial ability of government (local & central) to help get people off the streets.

        Also, DTB did not say anything about expelling foreigners but illegals. A crucial difference.

        1. 4.5 million *net* since 1997 according to official figures

    • Malcolm Smith

      “Removing benefits from kids 16-18”? What sort of benefits should go to minors? They should be taken care of by their parents or guardians. If the latter are very bad, then the solution is not to provide benefits directly to the kids, but to put them under the care of other responsible adults.

      • Demon Teddy Bear

        Sorry. This is a bit of forgotten history. But I noted it at the time.

        Once upon a time kids aged 16-18 could claim benefits if their parents threw them out. This was changed ca 1989. Within 6 months there were beggars in every town. There had never been any before; and the odd tramp was inevitable. These new beggars were all young. Some were female.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Why do their parents throw them out? Not always because parents are bad, but ore and more today because they have been taught how to not parent, and the children are appallingly behaved as a result. Score one for the governments of the last few decades.

      • dannybhoy

        And this is the problem with the development and growth of the Welfare State. It started off meaning very well, but over time it has become a central part of the social engineering programme.
        So parents have not only lost their authority they have lost the responsibility of being good parents. So in one sense a couple are currently the way by which children come into the world, but from then on the State is ready to take over their futures. The State no longer accepts Christian values so is unwilling to hold up any one form of family structure as being the ideal. Consequently anything goes and the State has no choice but to pick up the pieces and look to taxpayers for funding.
        If children are denied anything at home they only have to phone Childline or whatever and claim abuse or cruelty, and in steps the State… How then can parents put in boundaries and say “No!” to childish demands?

    • John

      We pay stupendous amounts of tax but it goes on important things like gay pride police car livery, ‘Vote Remain’ leaflets for the entire nation and abortion on demand. So there’s nothing left for homeless and poor people.

      • James60498 .

        Don’t forget free childcare regardless of income provided that you both go to work and leave your children in the “care” of an OFSTED approved carer

        • Dominic Stockford

          And you can afford to pay 40 or 50 pounds a week towards food and nappies etc. (which aren’t free, and are somehow more expensive than when you buy them yourself).

          • James60498 .

            Since the Conservatives became the Government we have been told that families where one parent earns £60k and the other stays at home to care for the children are too rich to need Child Allowance whilst those where both parents earn £99k need free child care.

            It’s all part of the believe nothing believe anything society.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I think you mean 59k. But the point remains.

          • James60498 .

            you are right, but to clarify that’s £59k before you lose child allowance.

            My £99k each before you lose Free child care is correct.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Yup. In danger of mixing apples and pears…!

  • SonoView

    It is, of course, laudable that Christians get involved in meeting the needs of the homeless, and indeed many other social issues. Matthew 25, 31-46 describes the outworking of the faith.

    However cathedrals, if they have any place at all in the life of our nation, should be much more than “addressing the issues that matter most to local people”. They need to be proclaiming the whole word of God to a nation which has largely turned its back on its Christian heritage, replacing it with vague notions of “equality and diversity”.

    But this is not popular and might “put people off” as did much of the Lord Jesus’s teaching. (John 6,66)

    I have only been to services in a few cathedrals in my time, and in each case the only preaching was a brief sermonette on something rather vague with possibly the odd bible verse mentioned in passing. It was completely inoffensive and bore no relationship to the incredibly strong teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25!

    If cathedrals want to become relevant to our society let them rediscover the bible and start teaching it in all its frankness.

    • alternative_perspective

      Invite the homeless in, close the door and preach at them until they submit 😉
      We eradicate rough sleeping and get a captive audience for our message.

      • dannybhoy

        As in the promotion of gay marriage, the celebration of sexual confusion and gender fluidity??

  • dannybhoy

    Yessssss (he said doubtfully).
    In a very small way my wife and I are involved with a single parent family. We painted their lounge and tackled the housing officer about repairs that needed to be done.
    It came as a shock to find out that this little unit receives more in State benefits than my wife and I as retirees whose sole income is our State pensions. That they can afford to eat out, buy convenience food rather than cook and have numerous paid outings whilst we sought contributions to help pay for free treats in our Messy Church club..
    It got me thinking.
    Not that I begrudge them, but more what that does to our Christian idea of freewill giving and the non Christian’s sense of entitlement. i.e. “It’s my right.”
    So I stopped doing stuff around their house because I realised the adult could actually afford to pay to have work done, whereas we have to watch how we spend our money.
    All that to say unless the Church preaches the real gospel as the Wesley brothers and others have done down the centuries, the non Christians will have no regard for us opening our churches and cathedrals.
    It will be seen as a right, as an obligation, instead of a sacrifice of Christian love.

  • alternative_perspective

    Agreed, I see no problem at all with opening the churches to semi-permanent relief shelters.
    The wealthier parishes could install mezzanine floors in their buildings and create permanent relief facilities. Moreover, it would keenly remind visitors and the clergy of God’s heart for the poor.
    There certainly are issues around maintaining the house of God for prayer but I don’t see these as insurmountable and excepting Orthodox, Catholics and traditionalist Anglicans there shouldn’t be too many problems around the communion table.
    If the church did this with gusto, in one swoop we could stop rough sleeping in the UK. It wouldn’t address the underlying policy issues but it would be a great act of service; help so many people and bring the problem front and centre of people’s minds – which might be a great motivational aid to doing something about the problem.

  • carl jacobs

    So if you want to end homelessness, there is a very direct solution. Go out into the street, find a homeless person and put him in your spare bedroom. Each one home one.

    “Ummmm … are you out of your mind?”

    Exactly. This is when the reality of homelessness collides with soft abstract notions of social justice. This is when the reality of homelessness –
    drugs, alcohol, mental illness – can no longer be gently elided with statements about a single problem that has spiraled our of control. That single spiraling problem is generally one of the three listed.

    You don’t really address homelessness by giving people food and temporary shelter. You simply make it possible for them to live on the street. To address homelessness, you have to take on drug abuse, alcoholism, and mental illness. That means you have to get people off the street. You can’t fix it in temporary shelters.

    And when Mom down the street from your shelter finds her two year-old holding a used hypodermic needle that was dropped in front of her house, there will be hell to pay. She won’t care about spiralling problems anymore. She is going to stop talking about “homeless people.” She is going to start talking about vagrants.

    Of course, if you think I’m being harsh and heartless, you can always put a homeless person in your spare bedroom.

    • Sarky

      Matthew 25: 35-40

      • Inspector General

        “It’s freezing cold out there, but we couldn’t have you out on the streets”

        “Yeah. Thanks for taking me in”

        “Look. I have to go to work now. Back later”
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        “Oh what a hard day! Oi! Where’s my TV gone!”

        “I’ve got a habit, ain’t I”

        “And the Hi-Fi, but I see you didn’t leave me any CDs anyway so I won’t be needing one for a time”

        “Yeah. Well. It’s this habit of mine, innit. It’s expensive. I think I’ll be moving on now. Any chance of a sandwich to take with me?”

        • Sarky

          Hi-fi and cd’s???

          You not heard of spotify??

          • Pubcrawler

            He’s strictly a wax cylinder man, is the Inspector.

            Dunno what he uses them for, mind…

          • Inspector General

            A chap never knows when Linus might drop round…

          • Chefofsinners

            …but they say his skin is as smooth as silk. In places.

      • carl jacobs

        You will notice what it doesn’t say: “I was a drug user and you gave me Meth.”

        Homelessness is a derivative problem. Bob doesn’t use drugs because he’s homeless. Bob is homeless because he uses drugs. So sure. Feed Bob. He’ll show up every day for free food. Then he’ll go scrounge money to buy drugs. You’ll have a fed drug user who hangs around your neighborhood when he isn’t in your shelter. How does this help Bob? How does this help anybody?

        And don’t you care about the people who suddenly have to deal with that pathology suddenly transported to their front porches? One of the hidden benefits of shelters is that they control where homeless people aggregate. In other words, if you build a shelter “over there” you won’t have homeless people on your steps and yet you can still feel good about your socially progressive attitude. All the benefit. None of the cost.

        You don’t help people by enabling pathologically destructive lifestyles. This is not about random helpless victims of capitalism. This is about people making destructive choices. There is a big difference in how one should respond.

        • Dominic Stockford

          People in my congregation finally sussed the truth of what you say when the homeless man they were being so ‘kind’ to sought to attack me and was taken away by the police and sent to jail.

          • Sarky

            Did you preach at him??

          • Dominic Stockford

            I spent much time speaking about the Gospel to him. Sadly for you, many years later, after some horrific experiences, he has now been convicted of his sin and embraced the saving love of Jesus Christ.

          • Sarky

            Why sadly for me? I couldn’t care less.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Sums you up really.

          • Sarky

            For every convert i can show you 10 who have left their faith.

          • Dominic Stockford

            You can’t. True saints persevere. You may be able to point me to some who didn’t believe, but had decided they did, who gave up believing because it didn’t fit their personal ideology, but saints persevere.

          • Sarky

            Ah right, so once saved always saved, no matter what you do after you have denounced your faith.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Don’t know why we bother with you when you don’t actually speak to the facts of what was said.

          • carl jacobs

            Technically, Perseverance is not OSAS. You need to learn the difference before you criticize. Your statement would indicate you don’t understand either concept.

          • Sarky

            Sounds like another construct that christians tie themselves up in knots with.

          • Chefofsinners

            And so another piece of Linus’ life story falls into place.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Harsh, highly amusing, but in the end this chap has been convicted of his sin and embraced Christ as Saviour. We still pray for that outcome for Linus.

        • Sarky

          “You don’t help people by enabling pathologically destructive lifestyles”

          You don’t help them by doing nothing either. My grandfather helped run a soup kitchen pretty much until he died. Your argument wouldn’t have held much water with him.

          • carl jacobs

            You don’t help them by doing nothing either.

            Right. So act effectively. You don’t act effectively if you only address the derivative symptoms.

            Your argument wouldn’t have held much water with him.

            I bet it would cut a lot of ice with the woman who just saw her two year-old pick up a used hypodermic. Anyways, it wasn’t an argument so much as a statement of unpleasant facts. You can deal with them or not. You can’t change them by wishing them away.

          • dannybhoy

            Is it was a different society then Sarks. People suffered from genuine poverty and unemployment, but the majority were proud and held Christian values.

          • Sarky

            It was only 20 years ago!!

          • dannybhoy

            ?
            It was er, a bit different then Sarks
            People were umm, a bit different..

          • Chefofsinners

            No they weren’t. People have always been the same.
            You think there was no drug addiction in 1997?

          • dannybhoy

            Well admittedly I thought Sarky was talking like really old – the ’20s or ’30s perhaps.
            But whilst I believe all men (and women too) need salvation, I also believe we have had times when the Gospel has exercised more influence than others, so that even working class people held or understood moral values which influenced their behaviour towards each other.
            Unless you believe in total depravity?

          • Chefofsinners

            No, I don’t believe in total depravity. But the more closely you study history the more you find appalling sin in all societies. It is common to hear the days of the Wesleys lauded, conveniently forgetting the prevalence of slavery, or the Victorian era, ignoring child labour, opium dens and racism, or the 1950s when illegitimate children were taken from their mothers and sent to Australia.
            So at any point in the past some values were more moral, others were less so.
            People are basically sinful and always needy.

          • dannybhoy

            What we share with the apes and some other animals like elephants for example, is a sense of group or tribal identity. If we have secured our basic needs of food and shelter, we then have time to consider the other imponderables such as the meaning of life, morality and culture.
            Until then men can be savage. I don’t accept the theory of evolution but I do see similarities between us and our nearest genetic relatives. I think men are born sinful/selfish because they are not complete in themselves, and always need the help and cooperation of others for security and supply.
            That innate selfishness sets up a dichotomy in which the self wants its own way, but is aware that others must be persuaded or manipulated or coerced into helping them secure it. To an extent the personal histories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bear this out.

          • Chefofsinners

            Wouldn’t hold much soup, either.

          • carl jacobs

            And yet there has been no substantial reply given. Perhaps there is something else that doesn’t hold water in this argument. Or soup, for that matter.

        • Chefofsinners

          Try expounding James 2.

          • carl jacobs

            Do you think I couldn’t? In the meantime you should expound on 2 Thes 3.

          • Chefofsinners

            I think the words:
            ‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’
            contradict your argument.

            I presume you refer to the phrase in 2 Thess 3 ‘if a man will not work he shall not eat’.
            Which becomes irrelevant to this argument once it is noted that it says ‘will not’ rather than ‘can not’.

          • carl jacobs

            So a drug addict is alleviated from the responsibility for his condition once he becomes an incompetent adult? He cannot work because he has arranged his life to produce that outcome. He made deliberate choices that put him in that position. If you give him food and shelter you are doing nothing but helping him maintain that existence. I feel no Christian compunction to subsidize a drug addict in his life on the street.

            And once he is fed and goes on his way, do you pay a thought for the man he clubs on the head ten minutes later in order to obtain money for his next fix? What do you say to the kid who steps on his needle and gets Hepatitis C as a result? Are these just collateral damage of your Christian duty?

            The hard truth is that chronic homelessness cannot be addressed in an uncontrolled environment. They must be institutionalized. Then you will have the ability to help people who remain – those who really need it and can be served by it. But opening a shelter for a population dominated by drugs, alcohol and mental illness is practically reckless endangerment towards the people in the surrounding neighborhood. It is they will have to deal with the influx of crime, hazard, pestilence, filth, and disease. You can’t just ignore them.

            But so often people do.

          • Chefofsinners

            This argument contains so many assumptions that it is of no practical use.

            It also lacks compassion.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s not a response. It’s an evasion.

          • Chefofsinners

            It’s exasperation. Non sequiturs are my least favourite form of late night entertainment.

            Whether an addict is responsible or not should not affect whether we help him. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”

            Feeding an addict makes him no more or less likely to club someone on the head or drop a needle.
            And why is better to have these risks spread across a city rather than all in one place?
            And very few organisations actually give food and clothing but no other forms of help.
            And your concerns for the neighbourhood sound worthy, were it not for the commandment “…and love your neighbour as yourself”.

          • carl jacobs

            Nothing I said is a non-sequitur.

            Whether an addict is responsible or not should not affect whether we help him. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”
            So you have suddenly dropped the whole “can not/will not” distinction.

            Feeding an addict makes him no more or less likely to club someone on the head or drop a needle..
            Feeding him and sheltering him allows him to live in a particular area. When he leaves your shelter he goes right back onto the street to live the life of a drug addict. He won’t travel very far. So how do you think he supports his habit? And do you think people don’t complain about the presence of human waste and discarded needles and strangers in their backyards? Do you think they don’t look outside and fear to venture out the door because of what they see?I didn’t make any of this up.

            Feeding an addict makes him no more or less likely to club someone on the head or drop a needle.
            That’s a candid admission. I didn’t expect that. What typically happens is that shelters get concentrated in poor areas because richer areas have the clout to keep them out. The point is to eliminate the risk and not concentrate it.

            And very few organisations actually give food and clothing but no other forms of help.
            And they’re ever so successful at it. That why we see chronic long-term homelessness disappearing. Oh, wait.

            You don’t help people this way. It is not loving to make it possible for a drug addict to live on the street and use drugs. All you are doing is killing him and imposing consequences on those around him.

          • Chefofsinners

            I have not dropped the ‘can not will’. It is an instruction to Christians, so that the Church is not brought into disrepute. It isn’t a handbook for bringing souls to Christ.

            I fail to see why it is bad that an addict will be in one place rather than another. The concentration will only be in poor areas if rich Christians do nothing. And of course feeding and sheltering an addict or a mentally ill person or an abused teenager is only palliative care, but it is still a vital part of solving his problems. Very few homeless projects offer only food and shelter. They offer it as a first step back towards society.
            Every homeless person’s story is different. The only common factor I have found between those I have spoken to is that their lives have been less blessed than mine with wealth, health, love and spiritual guidance. A downward spiral is easy to get into and hard to get out of. But for the grace of God, there go I. These people are mostly beyond helping themselves. Of course Jesus’ question ‘Do you want to be healed?’ remains as relevant today as ever, but for most of the homeless the answer is ‘yes’ and we should reach out in compassion.

    • dannybhoy

      Agreed.
      It’s easy to say that it should be done but we all tend to assume that the person we want to help are down on their luck but have similar values to ourselves. It doesn’t always work that way.
      Just consider for example the behaviour of some immigrants into Europe and their treatment of those who want to help them; or better yet the treatment of Christians and their church buildings in foreign lands.
      If Christians in non Christian societies are treated badly, why on earth do we assume we won’t experience the same thing here in Europe?

  • Inspector General

    As a Christian, the Inspector’s responsibility to the (so called in many cases) homeless extends to alms. No more.

    One had the following conversation once which took place under an overhang at Gloucester bus station. He was genuinely homeless. The hair and state of their hands gives it away. The face skin will identify an addict. (It’s important to realise there are many ‘part time’ homeless around. Not allowed to stay in their B&B during the day, you see. Also, some well accommodated drug addicts are around too, wanting you to help pay for their habit. Females especially do this. It’s rare to find a genuinely homeless female. There is also the roaming Roma, but thanks to Brexit, we’ll be sending that crowd of undesirables back home one would hope)

    “Have the Outreach team talked to you”

    “They know I’m here”

    “Surely they can get you in somewhere”

    “Not with the dog they won’t. I’m going nowhere without the dog”

    “But you’d have a roof over your head. Social Services can help you out then”

    “I said I’m not going without the dog”

    The kindest thing for these people is to re-introduce an updated form of the workhouse. But apparently, the concept of the workhouse is considered by many, and not just lefties, as the most evil idea mankind has ever come up with.

    • Chefofsinners

      Nice photo of you at the top of this piece, IG. Possibly your best angle.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Saw this on Twitter and thought ‘great, they’re preaching the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to them’, then I discovered this still isn’t the case.

  • IanCad

    The homeless need cheap housing. Shouldn’t be a problem to create a self-contained unit for under 20k. Some homeless charity is already touting a 186sqft unit for 40k.
    There’s big money in charity.

  • If some homeless are being sheltered in Cathedrals and they are not utilising their time being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one would hope they are at least being put to good use in cleaning and maintenance duties for their keep? How long are they allowed to stay?

    CRISIS is a good charity for the homeless.

  • Chefofsinners

    Come off it you bunch o’ whingers. You pile into Joel Osteen for not opening his church and you slate the CoE when it does.
    “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.”

    • carl jacobs

      There is of course a HUGE difference between a refugee crisis induced by a flood and the chronic problem of homelessness caused by drugs, alcohol and mental illness.

      • Chefofsinners

        What is it?

        • carl jacobs

          You are kidding, right?

          The former is externally imposed and transient. The latter is self-imposed and chronic.

          The average flood victim is not possessed of the behavioral pathologies that make it impossible for him to function as an independent adult. You can help a flood victim simply by giving him the ability to resume his normal life. His problem is therefore transient. This is not true for a homeless drug addict. If you house a homeless drug addict, you will get a drug addict in a house who still possesses all the same chronic problems that existed before he got his house – which he will promptly destroy. The problem is not material and cannot be addressed by material means.

          • Chefofsinners

            The flood crisis is not very transient if your home has been washed away and you have no insurance. You are as homeless as anyone else. Which leads to the point that the causes of homelessness are more varied and nuanced than your argument assumes.

          • carl jacobs

            I live in a city that lost thousands of housing units to a flood. I personally know people who lived in neighborhoods that were under eight feet of water. They did not collapse into street life. It’s hard. It’s not debilitating. The habits of life aren’t destroyed by water. There was no great explosion of homelessness after the flood.

            Now, I will grant you this. There are more causes to homelessness than the three major causes I have focused on. But if you removed the impact of those three major causes (and an extraordinary percentage of long term homeless people fit into at least one of those categories), how much would remain?

            You need to triage if you are going to help. You need to focus on people you can actually help. Subsidizing drug addiction, and alcoholism isn’t neutral or compassionate. It’s destructive for all concerned. Subsidizing mental illness is hopeless, but the courts are involved in creating that problem. Somehow deinstitutionalization has to be reversed if that problem is to be solved.

          • Chefofsinners

            Yes, you need to triage in order to help. But in every case one of the actions necessary to help will be to give food and shelter, at least in the short term.
            So the blame lies not with those who give food and shelter, but with those who could give the other help needed but fail to do so.
            Bringing the homeless into a Christian church is a much needed step towards Christ and should be encouraged.

          • carl jacobs

            What help do you offer someone when all you do is make it possible for him to live on the street? How do you serve God by enabling the living of a destructive life? You say these others haven’t helped. But how have you helped him when he is able to stay where he is only because you enable it?

            And the people who live in the vicinity of this shelter – what about them? What compassion do you express towards them? What do you do about the hazards you impose upon them? Ask yourself why libraries are creating architectures that make it difficult for homeless people to settle on the grounds of a library. Talk to people who live near shelters. Ask them what they experience. Do they not matter?

            People don’t complain about helping the woman who finds herself thrown out by an abusive husband. People complain about the pathological behavior of drug addicts, and alcoholics, and the mentally ill. You can’t just say “Yes, well, it’s my Christian duty so you have to live with it.”

          • Chefofsinners

            Christ fed the 5000, including the lazy ones and the criminals. He healed all who were brought to Him. He died for the sins of those who deserved nothing. He makes the sun shine on the righteous and the evil. He gives us all our daily bread and says ‘Go and do thou likewise.’

          • carl jacobs

            And yet He never became a Bread King. Which He could have done.

          • Chefofsinners

            No. He told those who came only for the bread that He was the Bread of Life, and many were offended and went away. But still He tells us to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.

          • carl jacobs

            What it comes down to, Chef, is that you think there is a positive moral obligation to support a man despite the fact that he is an indolent layabout whose primary occupation is getting high. I think there is a positive moral obligation to refuse to support a man because of the fact that he is an indolent layabout whose primary occupation is getting high. You are willing to accept the collateral consequences this man imposes on others. I am willing to accept the collateral consequences this man imposes on himself.

          • Chefofsinners

            Setting aside the obvious point that not all homeless people are drug addicts, yes. The collateral consequences will be imposed on those around the man whether I help him or not. The consequences on the man can be averted.

          • Inspector General

            The Gloucester Outreach team has it that 4 out of 5 of them are regular drug users. Personally, one is done with these people and will walk the other side of the street to avoid them. The sooner our government starts building a few Stalag Dosser camps for these asocials, the better.

          • Chefofsinners

            Many turn to drugs in an attempt to cope with living on the street. Not everyone’s calling or gift is to help this group, but I won’t knock those who do.
            You will be waiting a long time for government to solve the problem.

          • grutchyngfysch

            We live in an area with a lot of drug abuse and have already buried a couple of people this year who died of overdosing. I’m not going to argue against any act of kindness to anyone but I’m also highly sceptical of its long term effects. I’ve watched the same people for years receiving handouts from the government, from charities and from passers by. Sometimes they’ve got homes which they have invariably wrecked and abandoned or got kicked out of. Drugs literally ruin a person. Right now we are supporting a young man who has been trying to build a different life and stay clean. A new home helps: having money helps: but if you cant sort out the underlying behaviour and addiction neither of those work on their own. Every person who weve seen make real life changing moves away from drugs has had the same common factor: they’ve made the discipline and self denial that comes with discipleship a part of their lives.

            And it’s hard. Nobody would question that: but without that discipline you’re better not kidding yourself that you’re doing anything other than changing a sticking plaster. The biggest thing a church can and should be doing is giving it’s time to help people rebuild. Money is secondary: it’s the structure and community that makes the most difference. Anyone can say a quick prayer and hand someone a fiver. It’s an act of kindness, sure, but if we want to be serious about saving people caught in addiction we need to be much more intentional.

  • Inspector General

    The Higher Understanding has it that we are all gifted with our own destiny, plus or minus. If that destiny includes sleeping rough in the street, then who are we to tell the fellow not to.

    • Chefofsinners

      You go ahead IG. I’ll show compassion by trying not to step on you when I’m coming out of the opera.

      • Inspector General

        In medieval times, these aimless souls would have been taken on by a local baron or maybe even the king as men-at-arms. You see, they are not as tragic as depicted, but following their own way. We judge them today by OUR standards. But they want nothing to do with our standards.

        We can thank the Higher Understanding for that insight.

        • Chefofsinners

          And you can thank the Highest understanding for this insight:
          Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

          • Inspector General

            Plenty of these people on the pavement in Gloucester. But not once, never, has a voice from the pavement said “Help me. Please Help me”

          • Chefofsinners

            Take a look at the daguerreotype above.

          • Inspector General

            Your arrogance, sir, is like the dimensions of the universe. Without bounds.

          • Chefofsinners

            I had no idea you regarded me as an equal. ‘Tis a compliment of the finest lustre.

          • Inspector General

            Idea? You apparently have no idea. Having posed for the shot, your man in the picture collected his fee and got off home. Do you like the way ‘some’ was mispelt. Enough to make a cat cry, that vomit inducing whatever alone…

          • Chefofsinners

            No doubt it is your impeccable spelling which has caused your rise to the highest echelons of society. Like a hot air balloon.

          • Inspector General

            There’s a black lad from Nigeria on the phone right now. He says he wants to move $10,000,000 US dollar out of the country, and for an English bank account to put it in, he’ll give the owner 10%. The Inspector said he’s too busy at the moment, but try Chef. He’s a good hearted fellow willing to help our unfortunates…

          • Chefofsinners

            If you will go around writing your number on the inside of phone boxes and public toilets…

          • dannybhoy

            If it opens doors….?

  • Don Benson

    Oh dear, this is a bit like those class discussions they used to put on at school to use up a spare period after the exams are finished. So here’s a thought:

    It might be truly kind and helpful of your favourite brain surgeon to take time out from extracting your unwelcome tumour in order to clip his neighbour’s hedge (she’s a rather rheumatic old lady). But he’s highly trained, very well paid, and only he can sort out your problem. What should he do? His neighbour definitely needs help – as do you.

    Likewise, the Church of England has a specific calling, specific resources and something uniquely important which only it can do. It looks out on a nation which is in spiritual meltdown and in crying need of help. It clearly cannot spread itself thinly enough to meet every social need with anything more than the thinnest veneer of good works; but of course it would earn some very welcome Brownie points for trying. But if it knuckles down to the hard graft of worship, prayer, teaching and evangelism (oops, we now say ‘mission’), it almost certainly won’t get much thanks but the ripples from that work have the potential to transform people’s lives and motivate them to do good works far beyond what the church as an organisation could ever do. And that could change everything, not least for the homeless.

    • Mike Stallard

      In our village/rapidly expanding suburb the Church was locked and abandoned years ago. Sometimes it briefly opens for a tiny group of people all well over eighty. The Vicar appears for funerals. She has four parishes of rapidly expanding suburbs.

  • Martin

    Perhaps it would be better to actually get their morality right in the first place. Persons such as Paul Bayes, who can never feed the people of God with the gospel, need to be ejected from their position.

    I support a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. So I too regret this divisive and unhelpful statement. https://t.co/RkA46EgWIV— Paul Bayes (@paulbayes) August 31, 2017

    BTW, the Nashville Statement would be a good thing for you to look at.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector would like to pay a personal tribute to Chefofsinners

    If it wasn’t for inepts like him, the Higher Understanding would not be explained to you all in detail…

    • Chefofsinners

      In the words of Cain:
      “behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; … and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.”

      • Inspector General

        Never mind. The Inspector will put you up. And he won’t slay you..if you keep your big mouth shut.

        • Chefofsinners

          It’s taken all evening, but finally you’ve agreed to open your doors to the homeless. Good show Inspector. One is humbled by the small part one has been called to play in leading you to the light.

      • dannybhoy

        Ah..
        So you weren’t on holiday after all.
        You were out vagabonding…

  • Lord Bourne was kind enough to mention Exeter Cathedral and the St. Petroc’s Centre.
    A good friend of mine helps out there as a volunteer. I’m sure he does much good work there.
    But he is utterly forbidden to pass one of the ‘clients’ a Christian tract or a New Testament or even to witness to him. That would be to infringe his human rights, no doubt. So the one thing that might change a life around, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the one thing these poor souls are denied.

    • Chefofsinners

      What the homeless need is not Lord Bourne but Lord Bourne Again. Oops – almost mentioned the gospel.

      • Mike Stallard

        …and just a bit of love, actually. That is what is missing. Some simply do not deserve even that: there are a lot of really wicked people out there, you know. But a surprising lot do respond to a little bit of listening, a tiny bit of courtesy. Treating people with dignity, actually. And a bit of politeness.

    • Anton

      Why the forbidding? Is it, at a guess, a condition of getting government money to assist the homeless? If so, decline the grant.

  • Watchman

    The sight of the homeless is an offence to us and is a reminder of our duty to the poor, a duty which we do not seem to fulfill well. We wish to see them disappear so that we won’t be reminded of that duty.

    People are homeless for reasons as individual as the people themselves. A surprising percentage wouldn’t have it any other way: they have a sense of community, the loss of which could not be compensated by a roof over their heads; many fear officialdom and normal living would expose them to having their freedom curtailed; and their sources of drugs etc are assured. It’s true that many are mentally ill, sometimes caused by drug abuse, but the symptoms are rarely overt and leave them functioning at the level at which they can survive on the streets when taking them off the streets would isolate them in a less understanding community than they have at the moment.

    Many appear homeless but are not but the appearance of homelessness provides them with a living. I heard of one man who was not homeless but sat begging on the streets of a major tourist city until he had raised about £50 and then went home. This usually took about half a day.

    Of course there are those who are genuinely homeless and need help getting back on their feet, but please don’t assume that they would all thank you for trying to help them on your terms rather than theirs. Helping the homeless is only enabled by getting to know them and letting them set the boundaries of whatever help you are offering and please don’t assume that homelessness is their primary problem. In the meantime they will remain an offence to our Christian conscience because the world says we should be doing something about them.

  • Mike Stallard

    I have just read St John Christostom on this very subject. He identifies the homeless man on the street, his limbs stiff with cold, with the naked body of Jesus on the cross. He also mentions those freezing in prison.
    But that was before the welfare state came along. Today half our incomes more or less are taken up with helping the poor one way or another. A lot of men are now on the street, some busking, some just sitting there in their own filth. Are they not getting welfare? If not, why not?

    • Chefofsinners

      The welfare state is failing on an epic scale. Misconceived and mis-managed, creating more problems than it solves. It is the law of unintended consequences fed until it is too fat to get out of bed. Much like the people who are its victims.
      “The poor you have with you always.”

    • dannybhoy

      There was an excellent programme on Channel 4 a little while ago called “Benefits Britain 1949”
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10217420/Channel-4s-Benefits-Britain-1949-puts-todays-welfare-claimants-on-trial.html
      You can actually watch it on Youtube. Very thought provoking, and strengthened my thinking regarding an updated form of the old workhouses, especially for dysfunctional families..

      Anyways as a Christian I accept that old maxim that ‘The devil finds work for idle hands to do’, and all able bodied people should earn their social benefits through work which benefits the whole community.

      That’s what bothers me about opening churches and cathedrals to take people off the streets. How will it be monitored, how will churches deal with those who abuse these consecrated buildings?
      I’m sorry, but whilst I don’t believe church buildings are the Church, I do think they should be treated with reverence as places of worship.

      • Mike Stallard

        In Singapore, the Welfare is much more regulated, resulting in two things: there are a lot of very sad old women pushing trolleys in Food Halls and selling paper hankies for 10 a pop. But the general tone of the people is sprightly. They are, on the whole, well dressed, polite, helpful and hopeful. They also do national service which helps a lot. (I know some of the beneficiaries.)

        • dannybhoy

          Danny has known unemployment, the longest period being two years after a business failure, during which time he qualified to do a six month training course courtesy of the taxpayer. We were living in a small rented house again courtesy of the taxpayer. We were fostering at the time and with the landlord’s permission set about taming the garden and decorating/ improving the house.
          When I hear the unemployed and unemployable say ‘Why should I do anything for nothing?’ it frankly disgusts me.

          • Mike Stallard

            I am in the same boat. When I left the CoE as an unemployed clergyman(!!) it means several years on the rock’n’roll. We too rented – and looked after all the eight (yup) properties we rented too.

          • dannybhoy

            Great stuff!
            I won’t ask how you came to be an unemployed clergyman
            -although I’d love to know!

          • Mike Stallard

            I was in the wrong Church! It became very obvious that from the Bishop to the Archdeacon, to a lot of my colleagues/brother clergy, Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Church buildings, meant little or nothing and they took pride in not believing any of it! Sounds mad now, I suppose.
            The last straw was the consecration, by Bishop Spong, of a divorced woman as a bishop in the teeth of St Paul’s teaching on the subject.
            I became a Catholic and have never looked back. But it did mean a time of unemployment as I adapted to the coldness of atheist society outside the Church of England and as a layman in the Catholic Church.

          • dannybhoy

            Crumbs.
            The Church is under attack as she ever is, and it’s shocking that there are places where people are being taught a contentless Christianity.
            I am not a believer in the clergy/laity divide, but I do recognise that some are called into a priesthood. From my own small experience being a member of a ‘traditional’ Anglican church, it seems to me the priest/vicar is not taught how to be a team builder, using godly men and women to meet various needs and ministries. So instead of being an enabler they become ‘bottlenecks’, running around burying people, visiting families, attending meetings and conferences etc.
            And all the time the congregation they should be pastoring gets left out whilst the priest attends to those calling on his time from outside the congregation.
            Thus they exhaust themselves, trouble festers amongst the people, there is no direction, no teaching, no spending time in discipleship..
            Then they leave, and the whole process of finding a vicar begins again.
            The enemy of our souls loves it.

          • Mike Stallard

            When my grandfather was a Vicar, or indeed my own father, the day began with matins at 7.30 for half an hour. Then breakfast followed by a time in the study until lunch. Real study too – he could do Greek and knew the Bible well. Then lunch and a sleep after washing up followed by two hours visiting at least five people. High tea was sometimes followed by a meeting.
            He kept the money for the back to back marriages on Saturday and all the funerals.
            Both men had a lovely big house and garden which was open to the Parish and which was often used for social gatherings. Upstairs, however, was private.
            Most important of all, both men had Parson’s Freehold which meant that they could say that they were personally responsible for the parish church and the vicarage was their private home.
            It was almost impossible to dismiss them.
            It was a very tranquil and rewarding life which did an awful lot of good to an awful lot of people.
            Oh – My grandfather constructed a Parish Hall which stands today and my father built a church which still stands today.

      • IanCad

        Danny – Thanks so much for the link. A fascinating glimpse into our social history, past and present. Order, regularity, discipline; A lesson within for me.

    • The Duke of Umberland, England

      They have been ‘sanctioned’. That’s why you will see an increase in beggars.

      You can take the long-term homeless off the street – but you cannot take the street out of them.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Many agencies look after the poor and homeless – it is what they were set up to do. There is only one which exists to preach the Gospel, and it needs to focus on that, because no-one else will do it.