Published on:

The number of people in our city who are homeless is rising, find out more about this issue here, as well as how you can best get involved.

Justice Network 3 copy



Why are there more people who are homeless? It is obvious to anyone walking through Birmingham City Centre that there are more people sleeping rough on the streets in Birmingham, you don’t have to go far to see someone begging or trying to keep warm. There is no doubt that our recent economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing, along with welfare cuts and cuts to support services have contributed to this increase. Though personal circumstances vary, being without a home is a scary and vulnerable place to be in which any of us without support of family or friends, health, money, in experiencing loss or a devastating life event, could be in a similar position. As Christians we are called into action: to go and help our neighbour, to be the “good Samaritan”, but with the scale of the problem it is hard to know where to start or what we can do. However there are ways you can get involved in this work- through volunteering, giving, campaigning and praying.

The facts and analysis

  • Nationally rough sleeping is increasing; In 2015 Government statistics showed that 3,569 people slept rough on any one night across England - this is over double the number counted in 2010 
  • Local agencies report 7,581 people slept rough in London alone throughout 2014/15 - A 16 per cent rise on the previous year, and more than double the figure of 3,673 in 2009/10 
  • Increase is mirrored here in Birmingham with the city seeing an 80% increase in numbers of those sleeping rough. A snapshot survey at a drop in support centre at the end of May 2016 counted 160 people accessing their service in one day.
  • There are some great services in Birmingham
    Sifa fireside and Shelter operate a welfare hub for people who are homeless and over 25yrs old, St Basils do the same for young people. Midland heart has a Street Outreach support service.

    The Birmingham Changing Futures Together project has brought together over 10 local agencies to work together to support those homeless with multiple need.

    There are many Churches and Christian organisations that are part of the Birmingham Christian Homelessness Forum who are involved in supporting people who are homeless such as YMCA, The Birmingham Churches Night Shelter, Birch, Hope Housing, St Chads, other Outreach teams and the Churches Soup run.

Getting involved


Below are a few simple ways you can get involved in making a difference through Volunteering, Giving, Campaigning, and Praying.

If you see homeless people on the street you may also want to think about how you offer them support, here is some advice in that situation.

If you see someone who looks homeless, you can help them if you want to by calling Streetlink  on 0300 500 0914 or logging onto www.streetlink.org.uk  and pressing  “tell us about a rough sleeper”  which will then  inform local support organisations( in the case of Birmingham- the Midland Heart outreach support team)  who will contact the person to offer support and advice.

It can be unhelpful to give money- unfortunately  we are told by Police and it is known that there are people coming into Birmingham who are not homeless in order to beg for money and receive food from soup runs.   

Please be aware of your own safety and do not approach people you don’t know on your own.  

Big Issue sellers with ID badges are trying to earn a living by selling papers, if you would like to help someone, think about buying a Big Issue or supporting a local charity who is supporting people who are homeless to make positive steps forward in their lives. 


There are many different types of volunteering opportunities available. Many of the organisations looking for volunteers have contact information on the “Standing in the Gaps” website under the “Homelessness” section. See www.standinginthegaps.org.uk

Here is a couple:

  • Birmingham Churches Winter Night Shelter is a partnership of churches, individuals and organisations that work together to provide emergency accommodation, food and support to homeless people through the winter. They look for volunteers from January- April to cook, welcome Guests, drive minibuses as well as other practical tasks. See website: www.bhamchurchesnightshelter.org.uk  Email: bhamchurchesnightshelter@hotmail.co.uk
  • Street Level Service- St Martin’s Centre for Health and Healing will shortly be establishing a financial conduct authority authorised debt advice and Money Management service, with Conflict resolution, Mentoring and Befriending services to follow. These initiatives will operate under the banner of Street Level Services. They are currently ( July 2016) looking for volunteers for the Money Management Service. Ten full days training will be offered at St Martin’s and the opportunity for volunteers to obtain a recognised qualification- level 3 in Debt and Money Management Advice. Contact ryanpeters@smchh.co.uk for more information.
  • You could increase housing supply- if you are a landlord and can afford to rent your property at an affordable rate to those on benefits- do so!
  • If you have a spare room that you don’t use, think about working with a local hosting scheme such as Birch- www.birch.org.uk to offer your room temporarily for someone who has nowhere to live.
  • Think about supporting a charity financially rather than giving to someone on the street or getting involved in fundraising for a group. Just Caring Midlands is a charity that provides support and care to young adults, including a gardening project, a drop in and cookery classes www.justcaring.org.uk They are looking for volunteers, prayer and financial support including volunteers to run sponsored events and focus on fundraising.
  • Housing Justice is a Christian charity that supports Churches and Christians across England and Wales to meet the needs of people who are homeless, provide more affordable housing and campaign on behalf of those who are homeless. Their vision is that we could all live in a society where everyone has a home that truly meets our needs. See www.housingjustice.org.uk for information on campaigns that you can get involved with. Sign up to the free e-news letter to keep in touch with current work and campaigns.
  • Share your own stories to challenge misconceptions about homelessness- important when often the media can portray people who are homeless as de-humanised or at fault and to blame.

The Housing Justice website (see above) has many resources including prayers, reflections and activities that can be used in both private and corporate reflection and worship around the theme of homelessness.

All: Together, Lord, we will build a home in a new world.
Reader: With the bricks of tolerance
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of belonging
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of understanding
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of sharing
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of hope
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of community
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: With the bricks of love
All: we build together a better world.
Reader: Together, Lord, With your help, Lord,
All: we build together a better world, where everyone will have a home,
where we will be part of one another, part of you.

See more at: http://www.housingjustice.org.uk/pages/prayers.html#sthash.yaraB3DQ.dpuf

Justice Network 4 copy