Jesus appears in the Gospels as an itinerant, homeless teacher. He is supported mainly by gifts from a group of women. When he sends his disciples on their mission he tells them not to take extra clothing but to seek hospitality wherever they visit. When someone says they will follow him he reportedly says, “Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9.58)
The provision for homeless and rough sleepers in Leighton Buzzard at the Black Horse, is through a charitable organisation that depends of the gifts of volunteers, who offer time and money to provide hospitality, security and kindness to those in need. Leighton Linslade Homelessness Service began from a concern by the Christians of the town to meet the needs of the itinerant and homeless. They saw this service as a way of offering service to Jesus.
World Homeless Week is organised by Church Homeless Trust as part of a mission to challenge, encourage, and support churches to help homeless people. It embraces World Homeless Day on 10 October in solidarity with homeless people, and those who help them, worldwide. The week is a chance to celebrate everything that churches and community groups do to help homeless people. It is an opportunity to support and encourage one another. It is also a time to consider, as groups and individuals, what more we can do to help.
There are opportunities to support this vital work locally in the next couple of weeks. A sponsored walk is being organised on 12th October linked to Homeless Sunday. A £15 donation will provide a week’s worth of water. Register at www.llhsblackhorse.org.uk
Provision and strategy for the homeless is being reviewed by Central Bedfordshire as part of a Government initiative. The draft strategy was put out for consultation, which closed on 15th September. It said, “Since the last strategy was published in 2015, the Review illustrates that housing need has further increased, and the supply of affordable housing is insufficient to meet that need…Limited access to affordable housing options have also been coupled with an increase in demand for support services such as mental health support, an increase in the use of transitional accommodation and an increase in rough sleeping.” The first priority it suggests is, to “ Increase the availability of decent, affordable accommodation that meets the needs of different groups in the community.”
A report in a national newspaper recently reported that, “One in four households in England found to be homeless or under threat of homelessness last year were in paid work at the time”. (The Observer). A partnership of Government, local authority and residents of Leighton
Linslade is necessary to fund the work, and to challenge the prejudice and stereotypes often circulating in the community. Homelessness is not always visible. It could happen to any of us.
Remember Jesus was an itinerant, wandering preacher who asked us to love our neighbours and show compassion.