* UPDATE * - the government has told local councils that ALL rough sleepers in England should be found a roof over their head by this weekend, in light of the dangers of the coronavirus epidemic. It's amazing what you can achieve, when you really want to.
We can all, indeed have to, hunker down in our own homes right now, but what if we have no home? - there are many scared homeless and vulnerable people out on the streets right now, the vast majority with health problems that put them at high risk of death should they contract the coronavirus. How do they safely self-isolate? Who will deliver their groceries and medicines? The shelters and day centres they rely on are overwhelmingly staffed by older people who can no longer be there for them, however much they want to be. They are the trusted familiar faces to our homeless, giving them a hot meal, helping them with access to services and support - but so many are forced to close their doors. I heard from the wonderful Dover Outreach Centre this morning:
"We are not able to do what we usually do because no-one is taking on
staff, no rehab centres are taking in new people, no-one is allowed to
leave the country to repatriate or even move around it (to risk a failed
family reconciliation to then need to move back
again!) Consequently we have only been operating as a meeting
place/club/cafe/restaurant and this is now prohibited so we expect to
have to close within days.
Noel has been working very hard to get everyone off the street and into
temporary accommodation to keep them safe. It will only be temporary
because there is no magic supply of additional housing to produce a
permanent solution, but like everyone else, we
just need to somehow get through this crisis as safely as possible."
Please keep them in your prayers, and everyone who is left behind when the streets empty.Everything looks the same, but everything is different - we are fearful, cautious, maybe sceptical, but we know that a storm is coming and we need to do everything we can to protect as many people as possible. Please follow the official advice, don't feel bad for cancelling events or meetings, you're not being selfish or ridiculous. You are looking after yourself, those close to you and those you may never even meet in person. It's a time to come together in other ways - on the phone, over the internet, technology is at your fingertips to do this. Stay in touch with family and friends, let them know if you are self-isolating - so many people are willing to help in so many ways. Pray for those having to make the most difficult decisions on our behalf, pray for our NHS (we are beyond lucky to have such an establishment). Pray for safe delivery through this viral storm and let's hope we get through to a kinder, less self-centred, more altruistic community-minded world when this is finally over. Stay safe. 28,000 people - Councils report nearly 5 times as many rough sleepers in 2018 than the official government figures, as a Freedom of Information request from the councils discovered. The government pledge to "fight the scourge of homelessness". How about we fight the scourge of the causes of homelessness, and maybe that would make a difference? Sweeping people off the streets doesn't solve the problem, it takes it from under our noses - the BBC have a pertinent report on their website right now, you can find it if you click here.
Lent begins Wednesday 26th February -
had your pancakes? Your last biscuit for a while? The theme for the Church of England this year is
'Care for God's Creation'. We live in a beautiful, diverse, benevolent and malevolent, wonderous
world, and we reflect all of those qualities. God's Creation includes
us, so let's make this a Lent to really look after each other and
wherever we are in the world. Make habits that become a way of life,
make friends that last a lifetime. Change minds, change hearts.
1.6million food parcels issued by Trussell Trust Food Banks in 2018 - that's up from 41,000 in 2010. I'll just let that sink in.
Saw this... ...thought it was kind of lovely.