From opening night shelters to building affordable homes, ways in which churches can help homeless people will be the focus of a roadshow this month (April).
The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, will open the event which is organised by Housing Justice Cymru, an ecumenical Christian charity. It will look at night shelter projects, housing for ex-offenders, building on church land and options for destitute migrants.
It is being held in Wrexham which has the second highest number of rough sleepers in Wales after Cardiff. 61 rough sleepers were recorded over a two-week period in October last year.
Housing Justice Cymru has worked with the Church in Wales and other churches to turn surplus land into affordable homes. Over the past three years, 30 affordable homes have been delivered. The charity also provides training and set up support for more than 70 Church and Community Winter Night Shelters across England and Wales, which give shelter to people experiencing homelessness and gives support to destitute migrants.
Housing Justice Cymru also gathers data from organisations running Church and community night shelters across Wales. In the 2015-16 season it found that at least 20 churches in projects in Caerphilly, Newport and Swansea opened their premises for use as shelters during the season, accommodating more than 135 guests with volunteers giving more than 18,000 hours of volunteer time.
Bishop Gregory said, “Hospitality and hope are important parts of the Christian faith. Homelessness is not a problem that effects individuals, it effects communities and society more widely. It is something that can really only be addressed through all of the community acting together to tackle the causes of homelessness. I welcome and support the event in Wrexham to highlight the seriousness of this issue in North Wales and look forward to seeing communities come together to re-state our commitment that everyone should have a home to meet their needs.”
The Director of Housing Justice Cymru, Sharon Lee said, “Churches and faith groups are at the front line of voluntary engagement with people in housing need in Wales. Churches are providing practical support through emergency bed spaces and drop-in centres, and also through the release of land for new affordable rented homes.
“In North Wales the challenges are no less stark than in other parts of the nation and faith groups can and must be part of solutions to homelessness. The event in Wrexham will look at what practical responses look like, from night shelters to building affordable housing.”
The event will be held at the Salvation Army Church and Ark Community Centre on Garden Road, Rhosddu on 27th April 2017, starting at 9.30am. All are welcome and you can book your free ticket by visiting https://www.housingjustice.org.uk/Event/wrexham-roadshow or calling 020 3544 8094.