Christians in the UK are to run an enquiry into poverty and homelessness, culminating in a 'state of the nation' report.
Christian homelessness charity Housing Justice has joined with Scottish Churches Housing Action, Church Action on Poverty and the Church Urban Fund to launch an investigation into the experience of poverty, homelessness and bad housing across Britain.
The charities are calling on local church members to find out about poverty in their area. In Poverty and Homelessness Action Week (26 January – 3 February 2008) over 100 churches across Britain will gather first hand evidence of what it means to live in poverty and poor housing in their village, town or city today.
Through a series of ‘hearings’ the churches plan to hear directly from those affected by poverty, homelessness and poor housing and identify the three main problems in their area. They will also think about ways the problems can be solved.
After the action week the charities will draw together all the stories and identify common themes to give a state of the nation report on poverty and homelessness. The report will highlight ways to bring an end to poverty and homelessness in Britain and will encourage churches and other participating groups to follow through with practical action and campaigning.
To support the churches in finding out about the situation in their local area the charities have launched a resource pack with information on the national picture, guidelines on carrying out an investigation and material to get congregations thinking about the problems of poverty, homelessness and bad housing.
The packs, launched at the Housing Justice AGM last week, also contain worship material for Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday which are usually marked in January and February. The idea for the Action Week came as a result of arrangement of the church year in 2008 which meant that Homelessness Sunday (held annually on the last Sunday in January) was followed a week later by Poverty Action Sunday (held annually on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday).
Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice, commented “the Poverty and Homelessness Action Week will be an opportunity for churches to reflect on poverty, bad housing and homelessness close to home.
“We hope that as many churches as possible will take up the challenge of holding a hearing to find out what the reality of poverty and homelessness is like in their area. We can all quote the national statistics but it is hard to imagine what that actually means day to day. The Poverty and Homelessness Action Week hearings will allow churches to gather first hand evidence.”
She continued “Even if churches feel that they are unable to run a full scale hearing we would like to encourage them to think about the problems of poverty in their area and maybe contact local projects to find out more and involve them in a service. The more people know about the problems the better. Later in 2008 we will be urging all Christians to get involved in our campaign to end poverty in the UK.”