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Blog: How Can The Church Help The Homeless?

Martin and his wife, Liz have first hand experience of starting up a charity providing homes to help the homeless in their community. Martin shares his insightful thoughts on how the church can help the homeless and what an impact you can have.

When God inspired my wife, Liz, with the vision for, what is now, The Dwelling Place, we didn’t really know what shape the dream would take. We just knew that part of God’s good purpose for the life of our church involved hosting formerly homeless people. At first, we naively assumed that ‘home’ for The Dwelling Place would be a 26-bed property. We eagerly set about praying for God to provide us with a mansion! During one of these days of prayer, wiser people in our Christian community felt that our vision for 26 bedrooms would take the form of a network of community houses, each providing accommodation for 4 or 5 people.

Now this made a lot of sense and we set about putting a team together. We found trustees and God raised up volunteers to take on the administration, the practical responsibilities and the support of the residents in our care. One major snag – we didn’t have any money to buy a property!

Liz and I set about a period of exploration during which we visited many Christian projects serving people in need of a home. We learnt a lot about the different ways in which churches those the homeless, including those with lived experience of addition. What we didn’t find was a magic pot of money to buy a house with. We then discovered Green Pastures, a Christian charity aiming to end homelessness. They were brilliant. Not only did they provide the capital finance we needed for our first house, but lots of practical help and guidance to get our supported housing project up and running.

Our first, five-bedroom house has a kitchen and a central lounge/dinner, leading to a spacious, but low maintenance garden. There is a shared bathroom, a separate shower room and one additional toilet, ideally located a short walk from Basingstoke town centre, local supermarkets and on a major bus route. This is providing a sanctuary, a safe place to dwell in acceptance, respect and restoration, with a support programme designed to build self-esteem, within an atmosphere conducive to sustainable change, ‘building a future on solid foundations’.

The Dwelling Place is a Christian homelessness charity and church social action project delivering a supportive community to those who previously had no home, with the aim of sustainable independent living. We want to bring hope out of despair.

Dave (not his real name) says, “I was so low that I decided to take my own life. Fortunately, someone just managed to stop me from throwing myself under a train. At this bleak time in my life I was referred into The Dwelling Place. Since then, my life has taken a turn for the better . . . Liz is brilliant, she keeps me on track’. ‘Ian’ told us that moving into a clean and tidy environment, where people cared, gave him the confidence to take the risk and look for work. “I felt supported and that I had a safety net to take the steps required to take my life to the next level and not feel like a “second class” citizen anymore”. ‘Johnny’ had been street-homeless for almost a year before been given the opportunity to enter The Dwelling Place. “I had a few ups and downs whilst there but with the support of the staff and the housemates, I am happy to have moved on. I have nothing but thanks for the gentle love and pushing that enabled me to achieve what one year earlier I would have thought impossible”.

If you have ever had a dream or vision for helping those most in need, why not get in touch with Green Pastures? They provide everything you need to set up a supported housing project – whomever you feel called to serve. What would your current ministry to vulnerable people – foodbank, debt-advice, night-shelter, drop-in, addiction recovery group, job club – look like, if you cold offer someone a home, while they were in your care?

You can make an initial enquiry, just to find out more, here: Green Pastures Contact Us

Martin Howe, Partnership Manager - South West