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Homelessness Prevention Week 2015

“How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” Shane Claiborne, 2007.

First and foremost, we want to restore the humanity that society has stripped of those experiencing poverty and homelessness.  

 ‘…when you start dehumanizing the poor, you have no desire to build relationships with them. You have no interest in their stories. You have no interest in relationships. You believe stereotypes that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

When we’re not interested in building genuine mutual relationships, you rob people of their dignity and they become projects and not people. They become statistics and not reflections of our selves. How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t even know the poor?

When you dehumanize the poor, you have no desire or investment in their redemption’. Eugene Cho

Below are some resources Just Salvos have collated that can be used to observe Homelessness Prevention Week.

Meeting Resources

  • Congregational responsive prayer available for download here.

  • An adaption of 1 Corinthians 13 available for download herehomelessness

  • Video – Make them Visible. In this social experiment, unsuspecting people walked by relatives pretending to be homeless. Would they notice their family members? Or have the homeless become invisible? A potential video for use during a meeting to raise awareness. Watch on YouTube

  • Video – Everybody has a Story, Rebecca. This video shares statistics of young people experiencing homelessness by sharing the story of a young girl. It is another video that can be used to raise awareness of who is impacted by homelessness. Watch on YouTube.

Practical Responses

  • Go for a prayer walk with members of your church or faith community. Homelessness is not just people sleeping rough; many people experiencing homelessness are sleeping in their cars, in sheds or on friend’s couches. Prayer walk your neighbourhood and ask God to reveal any factors contributing to homelessness (such as poverty, financial strain, family and domestic violence, family breakdown) that are taking place in your community.

  • Continue to educate yourself and challenge any preconceived notions you may hold. Who are the homeless in your neighbourhood? Why are they homeless? Visit Homelessness Australia for more facts on homelessness.

  • Family and domestic violence is a significant contributor to homelessness, and chances are you know someone experiencing domestic violence. Educate yourself regarding the facts of family and domestic violence (FDV) and consider the ways in which you can assist someone experiencing FDV.

  • Hold a food drive; speak to your corps officer or community support services worker regarding what kind of supplies will best meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness in your community. Alternatively, every time you go shopping buy an item specifically to donate and make it a part of your weekly routine. 

  • Consider volunteering with a local organisation that works with those experiencing homelessness. Organisations like The Salvation Army, Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul normally have volunteer positions available in each state.

Online Resources

  • In 2013 The Salvation Army in Australia commenced a study examining the experiences of those who are homeless. The full report can be read here

  • Think Pieces. Watch this space for upcoming articles that utilise personal reflection.

  • A theogloical reflection on homelessness can be read here

Fundraising opportunities

  • The couch project is an iniative from The Salvation Army Eastern Territory that is asking people to sleep on their couch as a way of raising money for their homelessness. More information can be found here

  • Hold a 'Pyjama Sunday'! For a donation, members of your church can wear their pjs to church. This is also a good opportunity to raise awareness of homelessness. 

Ongoing Resources and Further Information

  • End Homelessness Now is a site dedicated to educating people about homelessness. For facts on homelessness as well as stories of those who have overcome, visit their site.

  • For more information regarding homelessness in each state, visit Homelessness Australia