The Church and Society Commission of the Church of Ireland organised an information event on homelessness in Northern Ireland on Wednesday 27th April at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast. The event was attended by 25 clergy and church workers who heard presentations from Kerry Anthony, CEO of DePaul Ireland, Kelan McClelland, Head of Service for Homelessness Prevention with Simon Community NI, and Kathy Maguire, from Council for the Homeless NI’s Youth Unit.
The Rt Revd Alan Abernethy Bishop of Connor opening the event
The Rt Revd Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, who opened the event, said: “We are called by Jesus to be there for people wherever they are, especially those who are the most vulnerable. I am confident that the knowledge and passion shared by our speakers will inspire churches to discover the most effective ways to help and support people who are homeless in our society.”
Issues covered in the presentations and question and answer sessions included the scale of the problem, causes of homelessness, rough sleeping, the need for investment in social housing, youth homelessness, and volunteer programmes in which churches can participate.
The Revd Adrian Dorrian, Chairman of the Church and Society Commission, remarked: “This was a challenging but encouraging event. The speakers prompted those present to ask seriously what our churches can do to support the positive work that charities and statutory agencies are doing. In that sense, today was the start of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation among and between churches and service providers.”
The Commission plans to run a similar event, on homelessness in the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin later this year.