According to recent statistics (published by Shelter last month) Birmingham is one of the UK’s worst homelessness hotspots. In our city 1 in 119 people is without a home. The media is full of discussion of sky-high rents, cuts in welfare, the lack of affordable homes and of the many people, often in work, struggling to pay the bills and relying on food banks.
Rough sleepers make up just a small part of the numbers, but this is homelessness at its most severe. In November, on one of the coldest nights of the year, a homeless man died behind a pub on John Bright Street in Birmingham’s city centre. Anybody who has walked down New Street during the past twelve months will have noticed an increased presence of rough sleepers. One possible cause (from Birmingham’s cabinet minister for housing, Peter Griffiths) is the demolition of the central library complex where the homeless used to gather and have now moved on to more visible places. But this is not the full story. According to street counts carried out for the government’s rough sleeping statistics, in 2015 there were 36 rough sleepers each day on our city’s streets. Counts made at the end of 2016 (to be published this month) suggest the number has risen to more than 70.
Help at the Care Centre
BCM’s Care Centre aims to be a haven for the homeless, warm and safe, providing food, friendship and training to support people, often with complex needs, and to offer a way forward. We are encouraged that, at the beginning of this new year, a second worker will join Jon Tiley at the Care Centre to bring about increased opening hours and services, a third evening each week first of all. Thanks to a gift from a Charitable Trust and the willingness of two volunteer teachers, five laptops will be bought and afternoon literacy classes started.
At the Christmas meal for the homeless at the Care Centre in the picture above, there was great food, singing and lots of fun
Help at the Resource Centre
The Resource Centre supports individuals and families struggling to pay their bills by providing emergency food parcels and other living essentials.
“Nine or ten years ago I went through a traumatic divorce and found myself out of a property and job and living away from Birmingham. I was living in a transit van with no wheels in a car park, freezing to death most nights and going to the back of hotels looking for food. I thought it best to come back to Birmingham after two or three years and was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Birmingham City Mission who gave me food parcels. People at the Mission introduced me to others so I could get a property.
Now I volunteer at the Mission two or three days each week. If it hadn’t been for the Mission and the Resource Centre team I would still be living on the street. They gave me the confidence and the spirit to make myself better and work. To all those guys who looked at me, saw there was some potential to get back on the right track, this is my thank you.”
• for the vulnerable people, often with complex needs, who come week by week, and for wisdom for staff and volunteers in dealing with individuals.
• for the many ideas and plans in the pipeline for the development of the Care Centre, that these would come to fruition.
The Care Centre and Resource Centre are both in urgent need of more volunteers.
If you can help, please call Derek on 0121 766 6603 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
REGISTER FOR BCM’S SPONSORED SLEEPOUT…
…to raise funds so the Care Centre and Resource Centre can continue to offer help and hope to the homeless. Click here for details.