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Charity reaches landmark in ministry to homeless people

Hope into Action (national Christian Charity / local charity) are opening their 50th house for the homeless in October 2017 in Peterborough.

Seven years ago Ed Walker used an inheritance to open a home in partnership with his church, Bretton Baptist, in Peterborough.

Now, seven years on, Hope Into Action – winnings of the Inspiring Project (Evangelical Alliance Serve Award) at the Inspire Awards in 2012 – is about to open their 50th home. The charity will be supporting 16 in Peterborough and a further 34 spread out across a total of 14 towns or cities.

The original home had a real heart for men coming out of prison but homes are now available for a wide range of ‘homeless’: people in recovery from addiction, people sleeping on the streets, women and children fleeing domestic violence, people coming out of rehab, former prostitutes, refugees, and those suffering mental health issues, survivors of human and sex trafficking.

Ed Walker, formerly of Tearfund and the longest serving member of their Disaster Management Team, returned to England to be with his young family in 2010. He was so moved by the story of a homeless man in his local park that he used his savings to open a home for him in partnership with his church.  

Now, in just seven years, he has built this idea into national award-winning charity Hope into Action, and the plan is to be in 20 cities by 2020.

It has all been achieved by using Christian wealth, a hitherto, largely, untapped seam of wealth for the social good.

“Many Christians have savings, wealth which they want to preserve. There is no widely accepted theology or Christian teaching on what to do with this. Therefore billions of pounds of Christian wealth is stored in banks or shares and thereby shared with the rich.

“We want to release that money and share it with the poor. We want to see a revolution in how Christians think about and use their wealth, so it becomes normal to have some of your wealth shared with the poor by investing in a house for the homeless.

“We have shown that churches have the latent wealth, which can be invested to help the homeless … because what they really need is a home (there is a reason we don’t term them: hostel-less, or ‘shelter-less’ or even ‘house-less’).

"Most importantly we have also shown, through consistently capturing our results, that churches can have a transformative effect on people in a vulnerable situation by surrounding them with a richness of relationships and non-judgemental love. Lots of services offer somewhere to sleep and are professional – very few offer a home and a community of people to accept you as you are.”

STATISTICS

• 120 people are now sleeping in Hope Into Action homes every night. By the end of October it will be 125
• Since inception the charity has raised more than £8,000,000 in investment capital to share with the poor
• 82% of tenants improved relations with their families last year
• 81% of those with previous drug/alcohol misuse reduced their intake
• 89% of former prisoners did not re-offend.
• The charity now has six homes for refugees across the country
• Hope Into Action has partnered with more than 45 churches

WHAT TENANTS SAY

“HIA helped save my life, not only housing me when I needed it, but their continued support after I left. They have loved me at my worst and fought for me continually and encouraged me endlessly.”

“Hope into Action literally saved my life. I would hate to think where I might be now if it wasn’t for them.”

WHAT CHURCH LEADERS SAY

Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, says: “What I really admire about Hope into Action is that it has a holistic depth to it. Hope into Action allows people in our churches to recognise they can actually do something.”

Steve Clifford, General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, adds: “The way out of homelessness is actually through relationships. What home can offer is family. What family can offer is relationships. And when you put that together with the local church, I would suggest it’s a dynamic of heaven that is at work there.”

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