Southsea church is helping the homeless

Food, drink and activities are available for guests at Open Church at St Jude's Southsea
Food, drink and activities are available for guests at Open Church at St Jude's Southsea

By Rev Adam Denley, curate of St Jude’s Church, Southsea

We’re really excited about our project to help the homeless, which is to expand in 2019.

Earlier this year, we invited homeless people to eat and sleep inside church buildings in Portsmouth every night for four weeks. This winter, we’re going to do it again – but double the length of the project to eight weeks.

Open Church will run from January 7 to March 4 2019. We will also increase the number of beds available each night from 10 to 12.

Seven churches took it in turns to host those vulnerable people each night last winter and I’m really pleased that all of those churches have signed up to do it again in 2019.

One of our aims was to make a real difference in the lives of some people and I’m happy to report that we seem to have done so. Of the 10 people we hosted earlier this year, some gained employment experience through a work trial, three were re-housed and one made their way home. One of those rehoused was a young pregnant woman, who was supported in temporary housing, funded by the churches, until her baby was born. And because people’s basic needs for food and shelter were sorted, they seemed able to build healthy relationships and reflect on how to move on from their circumstances.

I was also impressed that we had 200 people from local churches volunteering to cook, chat to our guests and even sleep overnight in church with them last time. Next year, I hope we’ll have just as many people involved.

I believe this is what the Church should be doing – showing how much every person is valued by God, whatever their background, and trying to transform their situations.

There are around 200 people sleeping rough in Portsmouth, some of them only yards from our church in Southsea shopping precinct, so our project is needed. And I know there are plenty of people who’d love to help them – if only they knew of an effective way to do so.

If you want to be involved or donate, get in touch on office@sjs.church or 023 9275 0442.