Addressing homelessness

An overview of how churches can act to help those who are homeless.

The Diocese of Ely recognises the scope and complexity of the growing homeless crisis in our country.

We recognise the role that churches are increasingly playing as they seek to demonstrate the love of God at work in our communities.

Bishop's Officer for Homelessness

There is a Bishop's Officer for Homelessness to help equip churches to respond creatively to issues of homelessness and to develop a ministry within the homeless and street-life community.

This post is partly funded from the Ely 2025 Growth Fund and is a partnership with Wintercomfort for the Homeless, Hope Cambridge and churches from the City of Cambridge

If you would like to know more, please email

The Effects of Homelessness

On average, homeless people die at just 47 years old. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked, or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless.

Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.

Government street counts and estimates give a snapshot of the national situation. The latest figures showed that 4,134 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2016 - a 16% increase compared to the previous year, and more than double the amount in 2010.

Source: Crisis, December 2017

The complexities of addressing the issue

Responding to homelessness is not straight forward. It is not simply a case of finding suitable accommodation for someone, even if this were possible. Homeless people are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. They are far more likely to have been exposed to a breakdown in relationships in the family home; addiction; debt, violence and intimidation, domestic abuse and mental health issues.

People who are homeless typically face additional obstacles in life such as changes to the benefits system. People whose immigration status means they have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) and cannot claim benefits, including housing benefit. These and many other factors contribute to the ongoing marginalisation of homeless people in our society. 

Jesus was born in a stable to a teenage mother, became a refugee and would have been "sofa surfing" throughout his ministry. Today we would categorise Jesus in his season of public ministry as one of the "hidden homeless". He and his disciples were dependent on the kindness of others to provide for their most basic needs. 

Jesus directly challenged those in authority, power and influence when the law did not promote care and compassion for those at the margins.

The Cambridge Churches Homeless Project

Information about the Cambridge Churches Homeless Project

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How your church can help

Some suggestions for how your church might respond to the issue of homelessness.

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Housing support charities and useful links

A list of links to charities and other organisations that can advise on the issue of homelessness.

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Should I give money?

Some guidance on giving money to those begging on the street.

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Volunteering opportunities

Information of organisations with volunteering opportunities.

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