Last Sunday was Homelessness Sunday. It’s a call to us all and especially the Church not to marginalise social justice. At St Chrysostom’s issues of homelessness have been very much in our thoughts and prayers recently as we work together to help a group of local homeless men.
Mycah recently took part in the Sleep Out challenge of the Church Urban Fund, together with Revd Penny King (Hulme Hall Chaplain) and Hannah and Francesca, Manchester University students. They raised an incredible £558.48, as together they drew attention to the issues of homelessness. Here are some thoughts from Mycah:
We slept outside in Dalton Ellis Hall grounds in the middle of December. We were lucky that night, we expected to be cold but the temperature didn’t dip towards freezing. The four of us had support from the community and church members of nearby parishes with supplies, and encouragement. I remember waking up sometime around three in the morning and listening to the birds for a few minutes thinking it must be close to sunrise, but daybreak was still a few hours away.
For the next few days I had people who had kept up with our progress comment how brave we all were and how it must have taken a lot of courage to sleep out all night.
On one face of the event, it was just that. We were four young women who had not experienced living rough before, and had been given supplies to help us through the night with ease and comfort – the one night that we were sleeping outside. It was an easy task when we compare what others face as a daily and nightly reality.
But to turn what we did on its ear a bit, there was a strong experience of witness to our Siblings in Christ that we four will never be the same because of our night sleeping out. There was something changing because of our accompaniment – including a different kind of understanding when we approach helping vulnerable communities. We chose to do what we did, when he finished we could ‘go home.’ Many of the homeless do not have that choice. We came to understand the stressful uncertainty of finding somewhere relatively secure to sleep for a few hours We experienced how bone chillingly cold the damp early mornings could be without shelter. These insights challenge us to consider and act upon the needs of the homeless of today.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in the Sleep Out, and to those who continue to aid and engage those who live on the margins.