St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and campaigning network Housing Justice will next week hold an Annual Service of Commemoration for those homeless people who have died in the capital in the past year.
The theme of this year’s service is “The Light belongs to everyone” and it will be held on Thursday 6 November 2008 at 12 noon in the newly refurbished St Martin's.
Spokesperson Alastair Murray, who is regions coordinator for Housing Justice, said: "This moving and uplifting event commemorates the lives of homeless people who have died in the past year. It is attended by homeless people and people who work with them. Life expectancy for people on the streets is short; many have no contact with friends or family and die completely alone."
Agencies working with homeless people from across London give the names of those they have known who died during the year - last year over 140 people.
Their names will be read out alongside prayer, music and poetry. Streetwise Opera, who use music to help people who have experienced homelessness to move forward in their lives, will perform two songs as part of the service.
Roger Shaljean of The Connection at St Martin’s said: ”This is a very special event. The service is a coming together of people who wish to commemorate the lives of individual homeless people who would otherwise die forgotten. It is above all a poignant and personal time of affirmation”.
The service is open to all who wish to commemorate the life of any homeless person who has died in the last year.
The Connection at St Martin’s helps homeless people by providing specialist services - including a day and night centre, outreach for rough sleepers, skills training and career advice, activity programmes and specialist support for complex needs – to 200 people in central London every day.
The charity’s mission is to provide an effective and relevant range of services to homeless people of all ages and those who are at risk of homelessness and exclusion in central London, services which promote engagement and change, services which meet physical, personal and emotional needs and which clearly encourage and deliver solutions.
It costs just over £4.5m to run The Connection at St Martin’s services each year and over 40% of this income is raised through donations from individuals, companies, trusts and foundations.
Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action in the field of housing and homelessness. They support night-shelters, drop-ins and hundreds of practical projects nationwide by providing advice and training for churches and other community groups who work with homeless people. They work by uniting Christians and churches of all denominations across the country to work for change. They embrace partnerships with people of all faiths (and none) who share their values of social justice and compassion. www.housingjustice.org.uk