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What we do: The Diocese of London Homelessness Lent Appeal: Tackling Homelessness Together

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Tackling Homelessness Together

The Diocese of London Homelessness Appeal

Tackling Homelessness Together

Since the mid-2000’s, homelessness in London has doubled.

In the 2014/15 Trust for London Report, 7,580 people were recorded as rough sleeping in London.

Rough sleeping is a dangerous and isolating experience. National charity Crisis reports that people sleeping rough are more likely to be victims of crime and almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence (in the past year compared to the general public). Women are particularly vulnerable, nearly one in four have been sexually assaulted whilst rough sleeping. Additionally, many people who rough sleep develop issues with drugs and alcohol.

With around one fifth of parishes within the Diocese of London actively helping the homeless, this is an issue that is very close to hearts and minds. For this reason we have launched the Diocese of London Homelessness Appeal so parishes can join together in an immediate response to help alleviate the suffering of those living in urgent and desperate need.

The challenge we face is diocese-wide but it is also a local issue. We have chosen to partner with charities from across the Diocese. All work at a local level to offer an immediate response to help those experiencing homelessness in this most practical of ways.

Although many of these organisations will offer additional services to guests such as advocacy, advice and practical support, it is the safety and security of the night shelter along with the love of Christ, support and acceptance provided by an army of volunteers that is so often the catalyst to help those experiencing homelessness to move on and reintegrate into society. It is also telling that some of those who have experienced homelessness and benefitted from the support given at a night shelter, return and volunteer to give ‘something back’ as a way of expressing their thanks for the help they received.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ”
— Matthew 25:40

The Bishop of Willesden, The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent

“We have huge ambitions for this campaign: ambitions which I know that parishes within the Diocese are well equipped to meet.”

Our Capital is faced with an immense challenge of homelessness. 8,000 people sleep rough in Greater London every year, double the recorded figure in 2010. Freezing conditions can prove fatal for anyone sleeping rough, and winter night shelters play a hugely important role in providing homeless people with a haven that is safe, warm and off the streets.

The Rt Revd Adrian Newman Bishop of Stepney

“My prayer is that our parishes, congregations and partner schools will be able to respond to this immense challenge by prayer, generous giving and, for those already supporting winter night shelters, by continued hands-on engagement for those in need.”

The level of homelessness across London is a scandal, and the contribution of churches and partner organisations is vital as statutory authorities struggle to cope. It’s wonderful to see the way in which this issue has been championed by local churches, and the many practical responses across the city and Diocese.

These two short films can be shown in church services and with Lent groups, and help us to be mindful of the people before us.

Nicky's story

Nicky Nicolls, is 73 and spent 36 years homeless. She describes how she ended up being homeless after suffering abuse, with whiskey as her only friend.

Nicky states that most rough sleepers simply want to feel human with clean clothes and clean teeth and that many are hurting deep inside. One of the first ways to help them is through a smile, hot food and a clean pair of socks – the simple things that winter night shelters are able to give.

John's story

In our second film, John Harper, 53, who worked as a freelance designer, describes how after a failed business, he spent time sofa-surfing.

His story chronicles that he ended up sleeping rough at Kings Cross station, but with the help of a shelter, staffed by volunteers, he was able to get himself back into a stable situation.


A poster is provided as part of the information pack. Posters can also be downloaded and printed. A limited amount are also available on request by email.

Information for parishes

Download more information about the Appeal, including copy for parish magazines, presentations and suggested Bible verses.

For parish treasurers

The parish finance advisers have prepared some notes for treasurers to help churches collect and process donations given to the Lent Appeal.

Partner charities

The challenge we face is diocese-wide but it is also a local issue. We have chosen to partner with charities from across the Diocese. All work at a local level to offer an immediate response to help those experiencing homelessness in this most practical of ways.

Supporting organisation or charityProjectAbout
Hackney DoorwaysHackney Winter NightshelterHackney Winter Night Shelter provides a hot meal and a warm bed for homeless guests who would otherwise be out on the streets during the coldest winter months.
GrowTHNight ShelterGrowTH is a project run by churches in Tower Hamlets which provides a night shelter for homeless men and women every night for seven months of the year.
CARIS IslingtonIslington Churches Cold Weather ShelterCARIS Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter runs every night from January to March in a circuit of church venues staffed by volunteers from the community: it offers support and hospitality, including cooked meals, a safe place to sleep and warm fellowship, to up to 15 homeless guests.
The Pilion TrustCally Crash PadThe Crash Pad offers young people in crisis and at risk, a safe, friendly and family orientated place that they could come and rest.
Shelter from the StormEmergency Night ShelterShelter from the Storm is a completely free emergency night shelter providing bed, dinner and breakfast for 42 homeless people every night of the year.
All People, All PlacesHaringey and Enfield Night SheltersAll People All Places works in Haringey and Enfield with people who are suffering from homelessness providing shelter during the coldest months and all year round casework to aid sustainable lifestyles and accommodation for approximately 50 guests.
C4WSC4WS Winter Night ShelterC4WS Homeless Project works with vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and uniquely combines short term emergency shelter with strategic, long-term rehabilitation that is designed to secure people housing and support them in rebuilding their lives so that they will not fall back into homelessness.
Together in BarnetNight ShelterTogether in Barnet's aim is to tackle homelessness in the London Borough of Barnet. The charity runs a night shelter within the local community to house rough sleepers from October to March each year. Together in Barnet works closely with the day centre, Homeless Action in Barnet, to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable in the Barnet community.
The Shelter Project, HounslowThe Shelter Project, HounslowThe Shelter Project Hounslow; providing shelter and companionship for rough sleepers in the London Borough of Hounslow during the harshest winter months.
West London MissionWestminster Churches Winter Night ShelterThe West London Mission run a range of social care projects across London including a day centre for street homeless people in Seymour Place (W1) from which we coordinate the Westminster Winter Night Shelter providing emergency accommodation for up to 15 homeless people per night in a network of churches, a mosque and a synagogue
Glass DoorNight ShelterGlass Door partners with churches to give shelter and support, because no one should have to sleep on the streets of London.
FirmFoundationWinter Night ShelterFirm Foundation is a homelessness charity working with 18+ single individuals with services across the Borough of Harrow
ECWNS (Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter)Ealing Churches Winter Night ShelterEaling Churches Winter Night Shelter (ECWNS) is an ecumenical project, organised and supported by local Ealing Churches, to provide emergency shelter to people experiencing homelessness in Ealing, during the winter months.
Hope for Southall Street HomelessHOPE for Southall Street Homeless ProjectHope for Southall Street Homeless works to transform lives and restore hope, enabling people to take ways out of rough sleeping which result in them leading fulfilled lives

Cash collections, e.g. open plate collections, retiring collections, lunches, and fundraising events, through your local church. The parish finance advisers have prepared some notes for treasurers to help churches collect and process donations given to the Homelessness Appeal.

Online donations can be made at https://www.give.net/lent18_homelessness

Cheques made out to the LONDON DIOCESAN FUND with Homelessness Appeal or Lent 2018 noted on the back can be sent to:

Diocese of London Homelessness Appeal
London Diocesan House
36 Causton Street

All money received by the London Diocesan Fund for the Homelessness Appeal 2017/18 will be split equally between the 15 partner charities supported by the Appeal and used towards their work providing Winter Night Shelters.

Any donations received after the Appeal has been closed will be allocated to future LDF Christmas/lent appeal beneficiary charities.

“Join us on Maundy Thursday (29 March) as we raise awareness of a hidden aspect of homelessness – sofa surfing. One of our films highlights John, who was sofa-surfing before sleeping rough. He was an ordinary man with a business who lost his home and started sofa-surfing.

As we reflect on the lead-up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our last call to action for the Lent Homelessness Appeal comes from Jesus’ teaching about the final judgement:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” (Matthew 25 v 40) ”

The Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney

Why #SofaSurfTogether

With many of London’s homelessness sleeping on the floor of a friend’s house, in a spare space or garage, they are not classified in official statistics on sleeping rough, they are ‘hidden homeless’.

According to the BBC, 41 per cent of young people have stayed with friends on floors or sofas for at least one night, with just over 9 per cent doing so for over a month. Young men are more likely to have sofa-surfed than young women.


“Foxes have dens and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58).

Find out more about how Jesus referred to his own state of homelessness.

Ideas of how to sofa surf together

We are asking people to simply sleep on the couch, settee, sofa or on the floor of your living room, on Maundy Thursday night, and into Good Friday. Register using the Eventbrite link (opens in new window).

You can do it alone, or get together with family and friends, or as a youth group. Get people to sponsor you or to make a donation to the Diocese of London appeal for homeless night shelters through Tackling Homelessness Together.

Spread the word and join in

Post a picture on Social Media using the hashtag #SofaSurfingTogether to raise awareness and highlight the issue. Tell your friends and get people in your church to take part in this simple act of awareness creating and fundraising. On this most poignant of nights for Christians, when we remember the last hours in the life of Jesus, consider reading the suggested bible verses and the Homelessness Prayer.


You can donate using the notes to treasurers section of the webpage.

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