Hope into Action founder looks back on 2015
Hope into Action, award-winning charity set up to fight homelessness, across the country is coming soon to Ipswich.
Mervyn Dye, Ipswich Coordinator for Hope into Action reports, “There is plenty of need out there. 2,744 people sleep rough in the UK, that’s up 14% since 2010. The Ipswich Housing Action Group report applications for emergency housing over and above the statutory homeless in the town. On any one night in Ipswich, there are about 13 people sleeping rough in the town centre.”
Ed Walker, founder of Hope Into Action says, “I think many people in this country instinctively turn and expect the Church to care for the homeless. And we want to enable churches to do just that. But more than that we want to address their deeper loneliness, and their need to belong and be loved.”
Hope Into Action runs many houses in Nottingham, Peterborough, Norwich, Cambridge, Eastbourne, Swindon, Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Reading and Woodbridge. The Hope into Action scheme in Woodbridge, Suffolk is being supported by volunteers from local churches. They will soon be providing their experience to the Ipswich team, who are about to purchase a house in Ipswich.
Ed Walker started the national organisation after a simple conversation with a recently released offender from prison seated on a park bench with nowhere to go. Ed took him home. He realised that a home with people who befriend and mentor the residents would provide the basic stability needed to help them get back on track. Here are his thoughts as he looks back over 2015:
As we pause for Christmas I thought I'd pen a few reflections on the last 12 months
Behind each of these words is a massive 'thank you' for countless prayers, gifts, investments and support.
No year is easy: the sudden death of Andy our trustee and departure of other staff made this one no different. For me though, my mind also lands on highlights:
On the 4th Jan – we held a day of fasting and prayer for a new office (after being given notice). We ended the year with a celebration in a building we own - one better than we could have imagined.
An amazing service with CSK in Hampton Peterborough – where our tenants lead us into a deeper understanding of Luke 15.
Training of new churches in Lincoln and Wolverhampton
A fantastic sleep out – this year in Norwich as well as Peterborough.
2 churches running houses for refugees from Eritrea, Sudan and Kuwait.
Tomorrow we accept our first ‘trafficked person’ - a referral from Hope for Justice.
We started 2015 with 26 homes open and ended with 34, with 60 tenants and ended with 78 - that is 78 precious humans from former sex workers to refugees, from as young as 18 upto late 50s, male and female including mothers with their children.
While all were born with talents, many arrive in a fairly broken state in need of love and security so those talents can be realised.
It is easy to make Hope Into Action sound like an amazing charity. Our reality though, a lot of the time, is hard graft mixed with disappointments.
We and our church partners support people through relapses, recollections of abuse, rape or incest, one of our ex-tenants died this year. We’ve had to evict people, some others have returned to prison, others struggle to keep hold of their children.
While this is part of our day-to-day it is the grim full-time-world occupied by thousands in our country and we believe a space the church should be engaging and leading in.
So behind the trappings of Christmas spare a moment to remember the raw nature of a man named Jesus: born homeless, in flight as a refugee, living in poverty, mocked as a bastard; he then went on to die: a convicted criminal, rejected, betrayed, suffering violence and abuse.
He can identify with our tenants. He calls us to likewise.
So as the state continues to shrink we view the Church as central to all we do. Here are some stories which have helped encourage us and, as you go into Christmas, may they encourage you also:
A guy who used to drink over 20 cans of beer a day, for 15 years is now dry, sober and also debt free.
A lady walked into her supporting church the other Sunday and heard a sermon on forgiveness. It happened to be exactly 4 years after she suffered a horrendous situation. After the service she was able to disclose what happened to her for the first time.
A Bedouin Muslim Kuwaiti is seen as an immigrant in his own country and comes to this country to find the church willing to house, love and support him. (In total we/the churches are housing 5 Muslim refugees).
Another guy – on an Alpha course - came away saying: ‘this Jesus is better than any drug.’ Since that day he has remained drug free.
A guy who has served over 40 prison sentences has maintained his tenancy with us for over 6 months.
A former sex-worker now volunteering in a homeless centre.
Jesus also came to bring and represent new life. That is what we hope for every day.
Thanks for journeying with us. Do stick with us for 2016 if you want to be further involved (partner, volunteer, donate to a tenant) please visit our website.
Mostly thanks for encouraging us in some way this year.
Have a great Christmas and 2016
Hope Into Action
To find out more about Hope into Action go to www.hopeintoaction.org.uk
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