Here’s some ideas on how you can help the homeless in London.

Did you know that many famous people have spent time homeless, living either directly on the streets or sofa-surfing between friends’ couches, because they had nowhere else to go? Daniel Craig, Idris Elba, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Jobs and Charlie Chaplin all found themselves in this situation before they found success.

Goes to show that we never know the potential or the back story of those we meet on the streets. Perhaps we should be less judgmental, and more interested in getting to know people…

And why is it our responsibility to help the homeless? Here are two verses that remind us that as people who follow God, we should also be concerned for those we see in need, and not pass them by on the other side of the road.

  • “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
  • “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Here are five ways you can help the homeless in London:

Humanise

Every person you walk past on the streets is an individual; a human being with their own story, their own hopes and dreams, and their own unique gifts. So why not take time to get to know them? Don’t just walk past. And when you engage, don’t just see people as statistics, as projects or as case studies. Talk to people, and when you do make sure you smile, make eye contact, and crouch or sit down so you come down to their level.

Empower

Start buying The Big Issue. This is a fantastic way to empower people who are trying to get off the streets, since you’re providing people with earned income rather than a handout. 50% of the cover price of The Big Issue goes to the person you buy it from, empowering them to work their way out of their problems.

Educate

Take the time to educate yourself on the different groups who are seeking to help the homeless. And then do something to support those initiatives. Two ways that you can do that:

  • We have an eight page Sanctuary booklet on homelessness that you can take. This has lots of practical information about homeless shelters and charities working across central London, and tips on how to best support people living on the streets.
  • Download and read the report produced by StreetLink here:

Give

Many people don’t want to give cash direct to people who are homeless, since this money could end up being spent on drink or drugs. But there are still plenty of other ways that you can give, and ensure you’re giving goes towards real help:

  • Buy food or a drink. Especially in winter, offer to buy someone a hot drink. In summer, offer them something refreshing. If you’re buying sandwich for lunch, get a second sandwich to give to someone else.
  • Collect for Foodbanks. There are now hundreds of foodbanks around the UK, each usually offering a three day emergency food (and often also toiletries) package for individuals and families in need. They all rely on food donations. So find out what non perishable food items your local Foodbank most requires, and go shopping for them. At Sanctuary we help support the Westminster Foodbank, operated by Westminster Chapel.
  • Donate. There a plenty of homeless charities who will use your money to help those in great need, and in a way that will bring them genuine help. Some include Shelter, St Mungo’s and Crisis, but there are many more. Pick one, and make a donation.
  • Spend time. Our time is truly our most precious resource, more so even than money. So choose to spend some of your time in helping the homeless, either by volunteering for a charity, or simply by talking to someone and buying them lunch.

Campaign

Ultimately, if you want to truly help the homeless on a society-wide scale rather than just on an individual level, you’ll find yourself being drawn towards campaigning and politics. This is something we will be exploring in the coming months as Sanctuary. If you’re drawn to this, come and get involved and help shape what we’re doing.

So there’s five different ways to help the homeless. The key question… what will YOU choose to DO in order to make more of a difference?

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