The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has become the patron of homelessness charity The Passage – a post originally held by his predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
The Passage runs London’s largest day centre for homeless people, offering help to around 200 people every day. It decsribes its mission as "[providing] resources which encourage, inspire and challenge homeless people to transform their lives."
Other church-based groups - notably Housing Justice - are also challenging government at all levels over practical policies to address the need for affordable, accessible accommodation for everyone in Britain.
The need for low-cost housing is acute in some areas of the country, and there are fears that the recession will increase homelessness if support for projects is hit directly or indirectly, with "disguised cuts" being a major threat amidst Con-Lib coalition rhetoric about "progressive cuts".
Regarding the charity of which he is now a leading advocate and representative, Archbishop Vincent Nichols commented: “I have been aware of the reputation and work of The Passage for many years."
He continued: "In recent months, following my visits to the charity, I have come to understand more fully the impact of the work of its staff and volunteers on some of the most vulnerable people in society.”
Mick Clarke, chief executive of The Passage, responded: “The Passage is immensely grateful to Cardinal Cormac for the support he gave to The Passage during his time as Patron. We are equally delighted to welcome Archbishop Vincent Nichols to the role of Patron."
"On his first visit to The Passage as Archbishop, it was clear that he has a deep passion for working with the most disadvantaged in our society, and advocating on their behalf, to ensure they have the resources available to transform their lives. This approach completely matches the values and ethos of our work at The Passage, " he added.
More information about the work of The Passage can be found at www.passage.org.uk