At Church Homeless Trust, we help everyone regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or religion. Anyone can find themselves falling on hard times whether that be through a relationship breakdown, a bereavement, a traumatic experience or any number of other issues that effect thousands of people in England every day.
Anyone can, through no fault of their own and regardless of their background, find themselves living on the streets. We believe in giving everyone the tools, experiences and help they need to rebuild their lives.
Some of the diverse groups of people we help are listed below.
Veterans can find acclimating to civilian life difficult, particularly if they don’t have a good support system. Military life can be psychologically as well as physically demanding, and some will have had traumatic experiences during their service. Without help, PTSD and other mental health issues may go unchecked and lead them to a harrowing life on the streets. Even those not suffering in this way often don’t know how to access housing, pay bills, and may find it difficult to find work that fits their skillset. We help to fund life skills lessons, vocational training and importantly, counselling for those that need it.
Many Asylum Seekers have travelled thousands of miles; fleeing war, famine and violence in order to be reunited with family and friends in the UK. While their asylum claim is ongoing, they are not allowed to work or claim benefits leaving some incredibly vulnerable. If their claim is rejected, they often have nowhere to go but the streets.
We partner with the charity Housing Justice to support them. While Housing Justice matches them with generous hosts who provide food and accommodation, we give grants for many of the other necessities they need whilst they apply for asylum status.
Victims of Domestic Violence
The number one reason for homelessness is relationship breakdown. Often, this is escaping a violent relationship. They may have experienced physical, sexual or mental abuse and all of them need a strong support network once they’ve escaped this environment. Many will have children that have also been traumatised and need further support. That’s why we fund the creation of safe, supportive environments for all those affected by domestic abuse. We support specialist refuges for women and children fleeing domestic abuse, as well as work with perpetrators to change their abusive behaviours.
Shockingly, more than half of those using homeless services are under 25. Many come from broken homes or the care system and do not have families to turn to. They are likely to have left home during childhood due to abuse, relationship breakdown, or overcrowding.
On any given night in the UK there may be up to 300,000 young people without a home, who have to resort to sleeping in an unsafe place such as in a car, or on the streets. Once they are safe with a roof over their heads, we fund a large variety of training and volunteering opportunities to help them start their journey to a happy, healthy life.
Ex-offenders face a huge amount of difficulty finding work and housing on their release. This often results in them being forced to return to criminal activity. According to the Prison Reform Trust, almost 75% of ex-offenders cannot find employment when they leave prison. Those who, like many, face being homeless on release are also 30% more likely return to prison. Our grants help ex-offenders to take training, expand their horizons, find a safe place to live, and leave the cycle of offending behind.
Mental Health Issues and Addiction
Health issues are both a cause and a consequence of homelessness. More than 80% of homeless people reported some form of mental health issue. Mental health issues are often exacerbated or caused by the stresses associated with being homeless. Church Homeless Trust’s funding supports people with mental health issues in a number of ways. This may be counselling, therapeutic activity groups, sporting and physical therapies, or training opportunities. People with complex needs may visit external health professionals, but holistic support is the most common.
For those with addiction issues, we also help begin their journey to overcoming addiction by providing them with a new bag and clothes for their stay in a detox centre, and travel expenses for their visits to counselling groups. A new pair of jeans, fresh underwear, clean socks and a warm coat helps each person feel that they have made a fresh start, especially if they have come off of the streets with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Entrenched Rough Sleepers
People who have slept rough for a long time are harder for services to help. They often mistrust support staff and may have had a previous bad experience, such as being forced to stay in an environment with others they found threatening, or in cramped and unhygienic conditions. On the street they risk being attacked, robbed, or becoming seriously ill. Their own sense of self-worth is damaged by their experiences: people who have slept rough for long periods have commented that they ‘didn’t feel they deserved better’.
Church Homeless Trust supports innovative projects that can approach these individuals, like Street Buddies. We also fund support at schemes that look after individuals with the most complex needs, even in the face of cuts to other services.