In the middle of February 96 hardy souls aged 10 to 77 years slept out to help Birmingham’s homeless. Three Care Centre regular guests shared their stories of addiction, loss and homelessness to everyone there. BCM staff member, Steve, said on the night: ‘The money that you raise this evening is allowing us to get people off the streets. Homelessness is real but it’s also solvable. There are success stories and what you are doing this evening is creating more of those success stories.’
Here is one of those stories.
‘I became homeless because of a breakdown in my relationship with my family due to my drug addiction. I was on the streets begging for money to feed my habit of heroin and crack that was £150 a day. I had nothing and no one.
On the streets I had my sleeping bag and the few things I had stolen. It was October and wet and cold. I was new to Birmingham and I had no idea who to ask for help. My family and no one I knew wanted to help. I had no one to turn to. That night I was so desperate and alone I prayed for the first time in my life to God. I asked for help and begged him to answer me. The next day I was given a flyer for the City Mission and came to ask for a sleeping bag. This is where I feel God answered me. I met Steve and asked if he could help with some stuff to keep warm. He didn’t just help with what I needed but that night got me a room in a hostel. It saved my life. It gave me a stable place with support to get on a drug programme and get clean.
I really feel God sent me to Steve. I also believe I would be dead if I was still on the streets and drugs. I have been clean for several months now and have my own place. I’m happy to have found a new faith in someone who gave me the strength to kick a habit I had struggled with all my life. The City Mission, Steve and God changed me when nothing else had worked before. I thank them all with all my heart and I’m taking time to learn more about the Man who answered my prayer that night.’
On Sunday 27th January a homeless man, Kane Walker, aged 31, died in an underpass near the Bullring. The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK is 47. Last year 450 homeless people died. 30 of these deaths were in the Midlands. New figures released at the end of January showed Birmingham was experiencing a spike in rough sleeping. On a single night in November, when the official count took place, 91 people were found on the streets, a massive 60% increase on last year. This contrasts with the national picture which shows a 2% fall in rough sleeping.
Please pray for our city’s rough sleepers, for their safety, health and protection. Pray God will bring them help to escape from addiction and desperate situations and provide for them a place of their own.