Birmingham Churches launch Homeless Shelter

Birmingham Churches are joining together to offer winter shelter to those who are homeless and vulnerable in the City. The shelter opened for the first time last winter, and this year the shelter will be opening up from 18th January for more nights of the week and for a total of 6 weeks.

Each church involved in the shelter project will be staffed by volunteers offering hospitality and overnight accommodation to up to 10 homeless people. Those who are homeless will be able to access the shelter through the SIFA Fireside daycentre, and through City centre outreach teams.

The shelter project includes among its venues and supporters Anglicans, Baptists, Roman Catholic and Methodist congregations, as well as volunteers from the local community.

The project is being coordinated by Emma Neill, the new Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum Development Worker. Emma is employed by Housing Justice, the national voice of Christian action on housing and homelessness, who are working in close partnership with the Christian Homeless Forum and Thrive Together Birmingham.

Emma Neill said: “This shelter project is a really exciting initiative that is mobilising so many church volunteers. It’s wonderful to see the churches rolling up their sleeves up and responding to the needs of those who are homeless and in need of help in the City”

As well as coordinating the shelter Emma will work year round to help support and strengthen church responses to homelessness in Birmingham, for example by training volunteers and providing advice and information to churches concerned about homelessness and seeking the best way of responding

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Steve Bedser, said: “This initiative is a welcome addition to the work already carried out in Birmingham – by Birmingham City Council and partner organisations – to meet the needs of vulnerable homeless households during the winter.”

Cath Gilliver, CEO of SIFA Fireside said: ‘We’re very pleased that Birmingham Churches will be providing another route to get people off the streets over the winter and look forward to working in partnership to help achieve this.’

Sarah Turner of Thrive Together Birmingham, who coordinated the pilot shelter project last February added: “Last winter we piloted a short churches night shelter and in the 10 nights we opened we had 21 overnight guests, many of whom, with additional support from other services, were helped into more permanent and settled accommodation. This year we are open for 6 weeks and hope that the shelter will offer support and hospitality to many more”

Rev. Neil Johnson, who chairs the Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum said: “The church is called to bring good news to the poor, and be a sign of how God wants the world to live. Our winter shelter is a practical demonstration of this calling.”

PRESS RELEASE ENDS

For further comment or interview please contact:

Emma Neill, Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum Development Worker e.neill@housingjustice.org.uk

Alastair Murray, Housing Justice Deputy Director 078 2794 7018 a.murray@hosuingjustice.org.uk

Rev. Neil Johnson, Birmingham Methodist Circuit / Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum 0121 616 1800 n.johnson@birminghammethodistcircuit.org.uk

Sarah Turner, Thrive Together Birmingham 078 8182 2405 sarah@thrivetogetherbham.org

Cath Gilliver, Chief Executive of SIFA Fireside 0121 766 1700 CathGilliver@sifafireside.co.uk

Further information:

Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action to prevent homelessness and bad housing. Our vision is of a society where everyone has access to a home that truly meets their needs.

Housing Justice was formed in April 2003 by the merger of two long-standing housing charities, the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS) and the Churches National Housing Coalition (CNHC). In January 2006 Housing Justice merged with UNLEASH (Church Action on Homelessness in London). Housing Justice brings together more than 60 years’ experience of supporting people in housing need and working for change in the field of housing.

Amongst other things Housing Justice supports the development of new Church Night Shelter projects nationally, as well as other practical church responses to homelessness and housing need.

www.housingjustice.org.uk

Thrive Together Birmingham is a Joint Venture partnership between Church Urban Fund and the Anglican Diocese of Birmingham. Thrive Together Birmingham also works with Churches Together in Birmingham, an ecumenical network of Christian churches in the diocese.

Thrive Together Birmingham’s main aim is to grow and support the movement of individuals, churches and projects who, motivated by their faith, are committed to serving and supporting the poor and marginalised in their local communities, towns and across Birmingham.

http://www.cuf.org.uk/thrive-together-birmingham

SIFA Fireside works with those who are homeless, affected by alcohol or otherwise socially excluded to improve their physical, social and mental well-being.

For more information, including opening times and details of services available at SIFA Fireside please see http://sifafireside.co.uk/

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