Parish asks: What can we do for the homeless?

Community Leaders in Southall, West London, have been invited to a meeting at St Anselm's Church to discuss homelessness in the district. Parish priest Father Gerard Mitchell SJ has issued the invitation so that local representatives might consider the plight of Street Homeless in Southall and how they might help them to find shelter.

“Street homelessness is the most visible and challenging expression of housing need and social exclusion in Southall,” says Fr Mitchell.  “It includes destitute asylum seekers and other forced migrants and street homeless.  In St Anselm’s, for example, since September 2013 we have regularly had street homeless sleeping night after night outside the main entrance of the Church.  In more recent months, we have had up to four men spending the night in the bushes of our garden.  I am sure that other communities experience similar challenges.”

St Anselm’s has operated a Winter Night Shelter since 2011, providing changing, showering and laundering facilities for homeless people, as well as drinks and advice to help them to find permanent homes.

“So much effort, creativity and resources are being invested in the transformation of the landscape of our public spaces and streets in Southall,” comments Fr Mitchell. “So this is surely an opportune time for us responsibly, imaginatively and urgently to confront this, the most shocking and enduring blot on our landscape and a most terrible affront to human dignity.” 

The meeting in St Anselm’s Parish Centre will take place on Tuesday 4 November 2014, 3.00-4.30pm. It will address the questions: What have we done for Street Homeless in Southall? What are we doing for Street Homeless in Southall? What more will we do for Street Homeless in Southall?

Photo: The Night Shelter at St Anselm's in Southall can accommodate up to 15 homeless people.