How many more empty words?

From: Steve Wise, Hope Kitchen & Stop the Traffik, St. Leonards Methodist Church, Bohemia Road, St Leonards

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a wet and windy Sunday with rain driving in from an unforgiving weather front.

It’s 7pm and a few people are about scurrying toward somewhere warm and safe.

Not so for the homeless couple or the men sleeping in doorways or in tents on the beach. Tents which strain for the freedom of flight, unlike their residents.

I explain that the shelters are open if you register at Seaview. I am met with jeers and tales of exclusion from all charitable organisations.

When asked why the replies were all of a similar nature involving drink, drugs or aggression, sometimes all three.

These “excluded” minority are the most vulnerable, they are ripe for exploitation, drug mules, forced labour and for the women, possible prostitution or domestic servitude. We have no facility for such people. Why not?

How many churches are empty every night? How many empty buildings do we have in town.

How many more empty words will we hear from the council and central government? The phrase “We will...” doesn’t work any more. It’s action we need.

Christianity is based on love and forgiveness, sadly many people have little or no idea as to the plight of the homeless. Indeed, some would openly oppose the use of a church for shelter, thus questioning the basis of their faith.

It is not the only problem the homeless have to face.

Rob Kane, a man homeless for two years, recently had a spell of four weeks in hospital suffering from a severely infected leg and a high risk of sepsis. Luckily he was treated and made reasonably well. Sadly, he was discharged back home – sadly because he has no home. A hospital gown and a coat are no good in November. Hope Kitchen gave him clothes from the store of clothing we have.

Rob was fortunate in so far as his friend has given him a roof until the New Year.

Rob’s story is not unusual, many are discharged back to the streets. No social care facilities, not enough hostel space, not enough shelter. Too many naysayers.

We talk about safeguarding, risk assessment and all the other PC innovations but they don’t apply to people with no home, no shelter, and no hope.

Advent is a time of new beginnings but for some it will only herald misery.

Hastings boasts many organisations to help, but the help is limited. These can be found on the web. Type Hastings homeless UK.

Steve Wise

Hope Kitchen & Stop the Traffik,
St. Leonards Methodist Church
Bohemia Road
St Leonards