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Case Study

12 members of Nottingham congregation buy house and help the homeless

Twelve members of local churches in Nottingham have started a special housing project in the city, which is both a sound investment and benefits those in need.

Each has invested £10,000 of their own money and together they have bought a house in their area to house 2 or 3 homeless people.

 

The project, the second such with local churches in Nottingham, in partnership with another charity called Hope Nottingham.

“We are delighted to support this radical use of money from members of local churches

and most importantly see people mentor and be-friend the tenants in the house.”

Rev Canon Alan Howe, Vicar of Christ Church, Chilwell, Nottingham.

 

Hope into Action has been operating in Nottingham for just over one year and we are delighted to partner with

Hope Nottingham and local churches to house the homeless.

There is still huge need in the City for more homes for the homeless and our dream is to have a home linked to many more churches in the City

Ed Walker, Founder and Executive Director of Hope into Action. - Shown Below

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Case study 2

Phillipe-was living in a tent before he entered one of our houses.

He has a background in hard drugs.

He wrote the following before leaving our house and going for a bike ride round Britain: 7th February 2013 was the last time I took Methadone, which ended a long and sometimes dark relationship with hard drugs.

This journey will help to completely cleanse me in body, mind and spirit; it’s part of me getting, and remaining, clean and getting away from temptation.

As part of my spiritual journey I find a lot of peace in the great outdoors, being on my own will allow me to reflect and find myself.

I just need to get away from prescription drugs like Methadone, and other drug users who try to tempt me.

I want to find time to come into contact with God.

I would like to find my real purpose in life, to find out who I am.

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Case study 3

From Inmate to Housemate

When I was released from prison, some member of the church met me at the gates and took me to the house.

No-one had ever done that for me before and it made me feel a bit less anxious. I felt like someone cared about what happened to me.

We arrived at the Hope into Action house and I was told that it would be my home. The house itself was so lovely. It was clean and had everything I would need. People from the church had pitched in to help furnish the house, so I had a bed to sleep on, a sofa to sit on and a table to eat at. I was surprised that people who I’d never met had obviously put in so much effort to make it feel homely for me.

That first night, I had a welcome meeting with Steve, the vicar of the partner church. We had a meal together, cooked by one of the volunteers at the house. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I felt welcome and wanted.

Steve talked through everything with me and reassured me that the people from Hope into Action would help support me getting back into employment. We also went through lots of other housekeeping things together like paying bills, so that I knew exactly what needed to be paid and when. He said it might take a while for my benefits to arrive, so they gave me some Foodbank vouchers to get me through in the meantime.

I met my housemate the day I moved into the Hope into Action house. It felt a bit strange to suddenly be sharing a house with a stranger, but in some ways, I liked the fact that I wasn’t on my own. He’d been there a while, so he seemed very much at home and said he’d show me the ropes over the next few days. I was pleased there was someone who I could ask where the nearest bus stop was and the local shop.

It was an amazing feeling to have my own room for the first time in ages. Just the privacy of not having to share a bedroom felt good. It was really peaceful – I hadn’t realised how much the noise of the prison bothered me until I noticed the peace and quiet of the Hope into Action home.

Having a bathroom felt like a bit of a luxury after sharing facilities with loads of other blokes in prison. Someone had thoughtfully provided some clean towels and toiletries to me to use, so that I could freshen up.

It’s hard to describe how I felt the first night I slept in the Hope into Action house; I think it was a mixture of anxiety and excitement.

Here I was, in my new home, living with someone I’d only met an hour or so before. Everything was different.

The weirdest thing was that a bunch of complete strangers from a church I’d never been to have worked so hard to make me feel wanted and welcomed.

 They seemed to care what happened to me. I wasn’t used to feeling like that. It was strange…. but I really felt touched by it.

We find homes for many people who have been in prison.

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The church – a refuge for those on the edge

by Emilie Reading

My experience is that the church as an establishment often struggles to love and accept the addict, but God doesn’t. God welcomes them wholeheartedly, He loves the marginalised as they are, His patience is never exhausted, and His love and forgiveness never runs out. Allow me to tell you a part of my story and share with you my heart.

I have had two distinct experiences of church, two very different approaches to me and my addiction.

In my first experience I was told to repent if I want a relationship with God, to simply break free of my addiction if I want to continue being an active member of the church and I was rejected by many of my Christian friends. All this did was reinforce my need for the substances of my choice, it drove me into deeper despair and I turned to my drink and my drugs for the comfort and relief I needed from that despair.

The church that treated me this way looked wonderful. You could leave your handbag unattended and let your kids play in the other room. It had a well-equipped building, smiles on every face, no cussing, and quiet during the sermon. It looked great on the outside, but it had no place for the marginalised of society. If you didn’t fit into their image, then you best go and find somewhere else to go.

In my second experience I was welcomed with open arms, loved when I felt unlovable. I was told of forgiveness, shown mercy, and accepted as part of the church before I acted like it. These people fought for my freedom, helped me access professional help, and took each step towards recovery alongside me. They helped me hold on to a slither of hope that life might turn around, they gave me the desire to break free of addiction.

The church that loved and accepted me, as I was, looked messy; children riding in on bikes, questions called out during the sermon, people wandering in and out for a smoke, or maybe even a hit. If you left your handbag unattended it might get stolen, if your teenager asked someone for a cigarette they may get given it. There was no building, just the renting of a small community hall. The church looked dangerous but it saved lives.

Somehow the church, in my experience, has made a hierarchy of sin, it has decided that the worst sin should not be found within its doors, and that the worst sinners should not be found within its membership. They have forgotten the Jesus that saved a prostitute from being stoned by reminding her accusers that all sin is equal and we should not judge. They do not know how to reflect the Jesus that sat and ate with the hated by society, who healed the rejected, who forgave his own murderers.

The church has become comfortable with their bubble of good behavior and grown fearful of anyone who threatens to burst it. Their instruction is simply to repent and change if you are to have any hope of a relationship with God, or a place within the church. For the addict that is an impossibility, they can’t just stop, they can repent all they want but changing the behavior needs love and professional help.

I wonder why if the church is the body of Christ how they can be so judging and rejecting of the very people Christ came to save? I want to challenge the church as individuals to care for the neighbour they would normally ignore, to love the down and out, to try and understand the prostitute, the drunk, the drug addict; because if you as an individual member of the Church reflect what God is about then maybe the church as an institution will change too.

Maybe we will see these people flood our congregations and find hope and healing, maybe we can change society, maybe we can show that one person that there is something worth living for, and that they are loved, clean and sober, or drunk and high, they are accepted, and maybe that acceptance will bring them a better life. That is my message, a message I feel so strongly about.

I plead with you, do not be afraid of the addict, their sin is no worse than yours. Please do not judge them, or try and change them – it will only drive them deeper into their addiction. Love them as Christ would love them, sacrifice your comfort for them, share meals with them, speak love and truth into their lives.

Be Christ to the addicts in your communities, because if you can be Christ to them maybe they will feel welcomed in the church, and they will have the chance to find freedom. Give them hope when they can’t imagine any for themselves. Change society by loving and including the rejects of that very society.

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16 April, 2018