World Homeless Day 10 October 2020
A fund to support people at risk of homelessness has been relaunched on the 10th anniversary of World Homeless Day. The aim of this global day is to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an ‘international day’ provides.
For 23 years The Southampton Churches Rent Deposit Scheme has been enabling people on low income, who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, to access accommodation. It is an ecumenical project with Trustees from the United Reformed Church, the Church of England, the Quakers, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
Over the years it has helped hundreds of people in the City, including families and couples, those sofa surfing with friends, those sleeping in a car, and those sleeping rough who are desperate to find accommodation but do not have the money for a deposit or the rent advanced. In the last year, working with Southampton City Council, we helped 46 people get off the street under the Government’s Rough Sleepers Initiative. In addition, we supported 21 people threatened with homelessness including families with children and 2 others with rent bonds.
The Trustees have come to the decision that it is now time to hand over to another larger organisation to continue this desperately needed work. It is important that we recognise the support we have received over the 23 years from our constituent churches both financial and spiritual, which we are sure will continue.
Whilst the charity is closing, the work is being taken up by City Life Church who are keen to ensure this valuable service is not lost. Richard Harris, Chair of Trustees for Southampton Churches Rent Deposit Schemes, said ‘We offer City Life Church our good wishes in their endeavour to meet the needs of homeless people in Southampton and pray for them to be as successful as the Southampton Churches Rent Deposit Scheme as long as the scourge of homelessness continues’.
City Life Church has been providing a soup run for those on the streets for more than 15 years, coordinates volunteers across the city as part of the Rough Sleepers Initiative and in the last few years has taken on a franchise of Hope Into Action, a national project helping churches provide temporary supported housing to help people move on from homelessness.
Paul Woodman from City Life Church, said, ‘Rent deposits can be a huge barrier to people having their own space to live in. This fund, supported by businesses, charities and trusts, can help us to overcome that barrier and support people at risk of homelessness to get support’.
This initiative is one of many in the city to reduce homelessness. Cllr Satvir Kaur said, ‘I am extremely grateful to Richard Harris and the charity that has supported hundreds of people over the past 20 years to secure a home. I welcome initiatives like this that help people locally to have a safe place to live in. It is important that people who are homeless have the right support to access and sustain accommodation. We want to make sure that people have the support they need to move on from homelessness and avoid becoming homeless again in the future.’
If you would like to get involved and donate to the Rent Deposit Scheme, or Hope into Action, helping people access housing to avoid or move on from homelessness, please get in contact via the City Life website: www.citylife.org.uk