“When faced with homelessness decisions become more black and white”
Homelessness and housing insecurity are having a traumatic impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Nearly 10,000 people are homeless in the Republic of Ireland – accommodated in hotels and emergency accommodation. About 80,000 households are awaiting social housing yet while in 1975 the government built 8,500 social houses, in 2017 it built 750.
In Northern Ireland between 2012 and 2017 there was a 32 per cent increase in statutory homelessness. At least 6,000 children in Northern Ireland are living in unsuitable, unstable housing.
However this is not just the result of political decisions, but also moral failings. We need to identify the causes and decisions behind the problems, and to plot ways towards a more just system where the home as a fundamental requirement for fruitful and fulfilling lives of both individuals and communities is given the priority and resources it deserves.
This will demand a willingness to look critically at ourselves as christians and church communities, as well as society as a whole and to examine whether our behaviour is consistent with our espoused values.
In order to begin this process the Irish Inter–Church Committee has developed a number of resources to equip churches and Christians to engage this issue. They include:
- A joint statement of pastoral concern from the Irish Inter–Church Committee.
- A small group study resource which examines the meaning of home in the history of God’s interactions with his people and seeks to stimulate discussion exploring how we might therefore respond as Christians to the societal and political contexts we inhabit today.
- A 1 page resource with questions on homelessness and housing insecurity to ask politicians canvassing at election time.
- A liturgical resource for use in church services
The launch of these resources will take place in Christ Church Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday 18th September at 11:00am. Tea and coffee served from 10.30am.
- Rev Ása Björk Ólafsdóttir, Rector of Christ Church and founder of “The Dining Room”, an inter–church venture, serving the homeless, the poor, the elderly and the lonely through sharing meals and companionship.
- William Blackall, retired businessman, formerly homeless, who will speak about the impact of homelessness on mental health.
- Fr Peter McVerry, founder of the Peter McVerry Trust.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 16th September to confirm your attendance.