10 Ways Help The Homeless & Join The Mission On Your Doorstep – By Mawuena Rankine

10 Ways To Join The Mission On Your Doorstep & Help The Homeless – By Mawuena Rankine

Is it just me? Or is there a change in the landscape of a town near you? In 2019, shopping is no longer a straightforward task as human bodies line the pavements of our busy high streets. If you’re lucky, you might complete your errands ‘begging free.’ But unfortunately, a blissful shopping experience is a luxury that seems a thing of the past.

It was this inconvenience that sparked the Active Christians Homeless Outreach in the Autumn of 2015. As a newlywed couple, my husband and I arranged a date night every Thursday. We made it a point after work to venture into Birmingham City Centre to enjoy a nice meal amongst the plethora of eateries. On one such occasion, we sat outdoors to enjoy a meal in a restaurant situated along a popular canal bank. It was the perfect setting for a nice, romantic meal, only, we could not enjoy it. Before long, a homeless man came up to us begging for change as we were sat for our meal and having become tired of people approaching us, that occasion became the last straw. We had to do more about it.

As homelessness across the UK rises, how can the general public be informed of the ways they can support this vulnerable group of people? I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be, however, I’ve picked up a few ideas having worked first-hand with the homeless as a volunteer for over 4 years now. I hope that some of these tips I’m about to share will get you thinking.

Statistics on homelessness spans far and wide, so be aware when it comes to interpreting national figures, as a decrease in ‘homelessness’ does not always equate to a decrease in ‘rough sleepers.’ Did you know that you can be legally homeless with a roof over your head? To be clear, before I dive in, I want to highlight that the homeless group I’ll be referring to are ‘rough sleepers,’ the group who do not have a home and live outdoors permanently.

Without further ado, here is my list of 10 ways to help the homeless.

Prayerful and practical Ways to help the homeless and rough sleepers in your community

 

1. Take action.

One of the scriptures that we live by as Active Christians volunteers is:

Matthew 25:34-40
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

In this portion of scripture, Yeshua outlines the opportunities that we have to serve Him. Verses 35 and 40, in particular, denote that when we water, feed, clothe and shelter the poor, it is as if we are feeding God Himself. This is a very serious matter because it also implies that when we fail to do these things, we are also rejecting God.

Now, this is a very sensitive matter because let’s face it, there are millions of people in need! Must we help each and every person? Well personally speaking, and this is just my opinion here, I believe God provides opportunities to help others and inadvertently, opportunities to be blessed by allowing the needy to come up to us in the streets.

The fact is, there are eternal consequences to the decisions we make.

Matthew 25:41-46
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

I’m not saying to go out there looking for people to help (unless of course, it is your calling), but the next time someone asks you for some change, before passing them by, you may want to consider the question, could this be God speaking through them?

 

2. Don’t judge.

There are many genuine reasons why people choose not to help the homeless. One of the common comments I hear is that homelessness is ‘self-inflicted.’ In other words, people become homeless because of their bad decisions or a conscious choice that they make. The truth, there are many reasons why people become homeless.

In 2017 Active Christians conducted an independent survey and we found that: 30% of rough sleepers become homeless as a result of relationship breakdowns and 13% of rough sleepers (66% of female rough sleepers) are homeless as the result of domestic violence. Over the years I’ve heard of many other stories: poor mental health, escape from other forms of abuse, job loss, the list goes on.

Whilst drug addiction is often the cause of sustained homelessness, we have also learned that many of the rough sleepers are introduced to drugs whilst on the streets. In fact, 1 in 10 refused to go into a hostel because they felt they would be introduced (or reintroduced) to drugs. This is a startling figure and has sober implications because, if hostels are the half-way house to a person becoming permanently re-housed, it means that the threat of drugs is causing some of the drug-free rough sleepers to remain in the cycle, thus, a catch 22 situation.

In conclusion, the next time a rough sleeper asks you for help, try to be empathetic towards them as you never know what led them to that position. Not only that, homelessness can happen to anyone.

1 in 3 people are only one pay-cheque away from being homeless themselves.

 

3. Use wisdom.

At a time where fraud is rife and money is scarce, it is very easy to bypass a ‘beggar’ under the assumption that they are there to scam. And the reality is, there are people out there who are so-called ‘professional beggars’ and indeed intend to scam. They are not in real need however they see begging as a quick-fix way to earning money. And let’s not be naïve here, many rough sleepers are drug-addicts, as mentioned previously, some are introduced to drugs whilst on the streets.

So what’s the solution? Well, often when someone asks for money I ask them if they would like something to eat or drink. If they say ‘yes’ then I ask them what they’d like and go ahead and buy it. If they say ‘no’ I ask them what they would want the money for and if I can still meet the need, i.e. they need a pair of gloves, then I try to meet that need too. However, it is not always that straight-forward. If a person says ‘no’ for a reason like, they need to raise money for transport or a room for the night, I take more caution. I have to say here, and this is just me, but if the person says ‘no’ and they give me a reason that I feel is not genuine, I often give them some change but less than I would someone who I feel is genuine, after all, we have to use discernment. But at the same time, we could be wrong, so to alleviate the stress, I use this low-risk technique.

Be prepared. More recently, when I know I’m going into town during the day and have supplies at home then I try to bring some drinks and snacks because I know at some point that I will see a homeless person. Similarly, if I am in town and I have time, I sometimes buy some drinks and snacks to distribute if I see homeless people around. These are some of the ways that you can support the homeless without being stung by scammers.

 

 

4. Take time to talk.

At a recent Active Christians event, a homeless lady shared that one of the best things you can do for a rough sleeper is to take the time to talk to them. You’ll often find that genuine rough sleepers are surprisingly quite content. You may pass by many who do not ask for a thing and assume that all is well. However, as you can imagine, they are often poor in spirit. A lot of the homeless feel low and depressed by their situation. This is where you come in.

When you have a moment, ask a homeless person how they are. They are often happy to talk and as one word leads to another, you might find yourself in a meaningful conversation. You never know, your words may change the course of their direction. Give it a try sometime. At Active Christians, one of the reports that we have heard more than once is ‘you saved my life that night.’ As we venture onto the streets at night, we frequently see the genuine rough sleepers at their worst and some have been suicidal. By simply speaking to them and adding in a bit of banter and humour to the conversation, we have managed to change the mindset of quite a few people.

Prayerful and practical Ways to help the homeless  and  rough sleepers in your community Pin for pinterest by Shovorne Adams

5. Pray.

Make time to pray for the homeless in your quiet time at home and also pray with the homeless.

Matthew 4:4 4
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”

Feeding is not the end goal when it comes to supporting rough sleepers. We want to see them transformed and the only way that they can be helped is through the power of God. Prayer is the most important thing that we can do for them, so make it a priority.

Ephesians 6:12
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”

Demonic possession has a lot to do with the bondage that rough sleepers feel. We have to pray against it to make a lasting impact.
Do not be afraid to ask a homeless person if you can pray with them because honestly, a large majority enjoy the prayer and your words and actions will not be wasted. And that’s a fact!

1 Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”

 

6. Signpost.

In Birmingham, we found that a lot of homeless people are not actually citizens of the Birmingham area. Many of them travel to the region for different reasons, one collective reason is that Birmingham is known for its hospitality towards rough sleepers. There are many passersby and outreach groups who schedule weekly times to feed the homeless, yet the issue still persists. This means that quite a few of the rough sleepers may not be aware of the services available to them and consequently need the direction of where they can go for help. A lot of the time they need encouragement to access the services; that’s where taking time to talk comes in.

Signposting (informing about the services available) is a good way to make use of the resources that are available for the homeless. For the general public, feeding and clothing are the least that we can do, but there is also a need for progress. Every area is different but it’d be a good idea to familiarise yourself with your local support services.

Find out your local council offer for the homeless, housing services, hostels, independent homeless support services, you’ll be amazed what options are out there!

 

7. Stand in the gap.

Maybe you’re reading this article and you can relate to a lot of the points? Maybe you’re someone who has always had a special empathy towards homeless people? Could homeless support be your calling?

Ezekiel 22:30
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

I personally believe that we are all called to support the homeless with the means that we have, however, there are different levels to this support. As an outreach group, we started off by simply taking out a flask of hot chocolate, jam sandwiches, crisps and biscuits. We worked with the little we had. Our team (my husband and I) at the time simply walked around Birmingham City Centre one night a week to ask the rough sleepers if they would like anything that we had to offer as well as a prayer.

Top tip: If you intend to regularly minister/ befriend the rough sleepers, go out at night rather than during the day. Nighttime is where you will find the genuine rough sleepers as opposed to ‘professional beggars’ and the difference will quickly become apparent.

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”

When word about the outreach got out within the church we were attending, this quickly developed into a two-day outreach with individuals as well as families joining us each week. Many of the volunteers saw miracles in their own personal lives, relationships were restored, healings took place and God’s favour was very evident within the group.

Since starting, we have gained wider support through the donation of food from local supermarkets, we have witnessed many transformations including testimonies from people who have transitioned off the streets. We have been advocates for the homeless within local and national forums, we have attended meetings and offered a voice within Parliament and we are well known within the Birmingham rough sleeping community due to the rapport that we have built. The homeless trust us and therefore we can minister to them in ways that others cannot. Sure the progress is not always as swift as we’d like, but if there is one thing that’s certain, we are saving lives.

Our vision is to provide a holistic service for the homeless including a 24 hour Christian Hostel, rehabilitation services and a wellbeing centre, but this requires major investment. For now, we work with what we have.

  • So back to my question, could homeless support be your calling?
  • Do you have an idea for a way to relieve the crisis?
  • Do you have contacts in high places that you could speak to in order to lessen the problem?
  • Do you have the investment to support existing services?
  • Could you choose a profession that helps people with mental health conditions?

If you think you have the ability to do more to reduce the reach of this crisis, I would suggest that you

  1. Start off with a prayer
  2. Write down your thoughts
  3. When you have clarity, take immediate action!
  4. And don’t worry about the provision, if it’s God’s will, He will provide.

Philippians 4:19
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”

 

8. Waste not – What do you do with your excess?

Prayerful and practical Ways to help the homeless and rough sleepers in your community Instagram Christian Quote

As reiterated throughout, offering food to the homeless is one method of support. The modern use of food banks has been a lifeline for many homeless people. In this context, I am speaking not only of the rough sleepers, but also about the sheltered homeless groups, families living on the breadline, individuals who are ‘sofa-surfing’ etc.

By using food banks, those who are in grave poverty are supported because food becomes one less thing they need to worry about. In moments of desperation, food banks become a viable solution when they are faced with the option to pay an urgent bill or to buy food. At Active Christians, we set aside a Wednesday evening to meet those individuals who have enquired about our food bank. We also supply food to those in a group of hostels who cannot afford to eat.

So how does this affect you? Well, maybe you could offer your services as a volunteer to support your local food bank? Or maybe you often find yourself with excess food that you can donate to a food bank? Or even use those extra vegetables to make soups to distribute to the homeless? You could also use apps like ‘Olio’ to share excess food amongst those who need it.

 

9. Protect yourself.

Take caution to protect yourself as well as the homeless. See poster for details:

Homeless outreach safety

 

10. Don’t miss out on your blessing!

When you bless others, you are blessing yourself. The Bible is very clear on this fact.

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”

If ever there was an infallible reason to help the homeless, it is this. When we help the homeless, God blesses us.

Proverbs 11:24-25
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

There you have it, 10 ways to help the homeless

P.s. You don’t want to end up like the rich man! Read Luke 16:19-31.

Prayerful and practical Ways to help the homeless  and  rough sleepers in your community Pin for pinterest by Shovorne Adams

 

 

Prayerful and practical Ways to help the homeless  and  rough sleepers in your community Pin for pinterest by Shovorne Adams

 

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