Blogs

Support us this Christmas

As we move into the Christmas season spare us a thought as we support those in greatest need in the Reading area and especially as we plan the night shelters for the New Year.

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Sleeping in tents as a “lifestyle choice”

A week in politics is a very long time. Even as I write this Suella has been sacked because of a different set of comments. However it is still worth looking at this issue. Words are important and I will try to be more careful than Ms Braverman. I don’t pretend to be able to read her mind when using the words “lifestyle choice”.

To begin with it is a sad fact that Britain has a serious housing crisis. Building of new properties is not keeping up with need. Excess demand is inflating the cost of buying and renting. Many people simply have no hope of affording a home.

However, we must add into the equation that many of those whom we serve week by week are hampered by addiction. Many have sadly gone round the loop of accessing emergency accommodation, move on accommodation, probably rehab, and then more permanent housing, only to fail to maintain their tenancy in some way and face eviction.

Perhaps if Suella had said “wrong life choices that people have made”, we might have heard her out! No-one becomes an addict by choice, but they do make choices along the way that ultimately take them there. I have often argued that we don’t so much have a homeless problem as an addiction problem.

And at risk of another “however” we are now seeing significant numbers of migrants being granted leave to stay but with little chance of finding employment and housing, especially not within the few weeks they are given to find somewhere before eviction from their hotel. At ‘FAITH‘ we are working towards setting up a version of “A Bed for the Night” (B4N) to offer short term accommodation for those in this predicament.

As a nation it is admirable to desire to be a place of sanctuary, but we need the infrastructure to facilitate that.

A good article can be found here

Malcolm Peirce – Communications Officer

An end to homelessness?

We can but praise his well intentioned desire to see homelessness ended, but none of us are holding our breath. The reasons why people end up on the street are many and varied.

However one huge driver is addiction. Accommodation can easily be provided given enough investment. However, unless one can stem the tide of drugs on our streets there will always be those struggling to stay housed, to pay rent and utilities bills.

This is a good piece from the BBC giving a rounded view of the whole picture.

Stepping Aside

Towards the end of 2022 I suggested to the Trustees that I felt the best way ahead for the charity was not to appoint a new Assistant Director but for me to step to one side and a new full time Director to be employed. When they had got over their surprise they gratefully accepted my suggestion.

Obviously for me it was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. My involvement with FAITH goes back to the early 90’s when I began as a volunteer. Working with the homeless and underprivileged gets into your DNA and becomes a part of you. Even as I write it feels unreal that what became “my baby” back in 2005 is now in somebody else’s arms. The everyday simple decisions which I used to make, I can no longer. It is very odd.

I will forever be grateful to the Trustees for entrusting me with FAITH and of course to the Lord for providing for the ministry over all these years. When I started ReadiFood was not even a thing. Indeed the term Food Bank did not exist. We did a couple of parcels each week for people that we came across in need, but nothing pointed to what was to come. We may have got close to running out of food on occasions but we never have.

For a few years we ran a small housing project and helped a number of men who were in recovery from addiction and needed additional help and support. More recently “A Bed for the Night” kept numerous men and women from sleeping in the cold and on a a couple of occasions saved lives.

It has been a joy to know that we have been able to make many people’s lives just a little better than they may have otherwise been and especially for a few individuals who have met Christ partly through our ministry.

I am also grateful that for the time being I will be continuing to work for FCG as “Communications Officer”, enabling me to do more of this, i.e. media stuff.

“Walking way” from FCG in due course will be incredibly difficult. What does one do after being part of such an incredible organisation? And of course it was never “my baby”. It was always and should always be His.

I’m sure that, just like you, God has a plan for the rest of my life.

Malcolm

New Director

We are pleased to announce the appointment of a new Director to FAITH Christian Group. Andy Dickens, a member of Reading Family Church, will take up his post in March 2023.

Malcolm Peirce, who has served as Director since 2005, is stepping aside within the charity having been looking to retire for some years.

New Tea Bar Wrap

We are delighted with the new look Tea Bar.

We are especially delighted because the artwork and application of the skin was done completely cost free.

A big thank you to Steve Peirce (Design) and VGL for the final shaping,  cutting and application.  Superb work.  Thank you.

VGL contact

0118 922 1300
sales@vgl.co.uk

268 Elgar Road South
Reading
Berkshire
RG2 0BT

Fuel Costs 2022

 

According to the Daily Telegraph, British households could face a sharp rise in their energy bills before October as suppliers grapple with surging wholesale costs.

Regulator Ofgem this morning confirmed that the price cap will jump to £3,549. The 80% increase equates to bills of almost £300 a month on average for a typical household.

While the rise officially comes into force from October 1, Ofgem warned some suppliers could start to increase direct debits before that date to spread costs.

The jump in prices will pile more pressure on strained household budgets ahead of a tough winter for British families.

 

Coming Home: the Archbishop’s new housing initiative

Over 8 million people in Britain currently live in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable housing – something that is completely unacceptable. To respond to that challenge, the Archbishop of Canterbury has set up a Commission on Housing, Church and Community. It is publishing its report this month and launching a campaign around the theme of ‘Coming Home‘.

Justin Welby explains, ‘It’s not enough that the Church gets involved in the business of building a better society; Christians need to be clear about the source of their concern and the mandate for their actions.’  This resonates with our own mission at Jubilee Centre to develop biblical thinking to inform Christian engagement in public life.

Before the main report is published on 21st February, the Commission has set out a theology of housing which it has developed to provide a foundation for its approach. It’s published in a book edited by Graham Tomlin and Malcolm Brown entitled ‘Coming Home,’ as well as in a shorter Grove booklet entitled ‘Why the Church should care about housing‘.

https://www.jubilee-centre.org/blog/coming-home-0

Reading’s homelessness crisis and what’s being done to stop people ending up on the streets

At FAITH Christian Group we are doing our bit to help reduce the risks associated with rough sleeping, especially by providing a Night Shelter in January to March each year.

Read Berkshire LIve’s report on what the government are doing here.

It’s been 18 months since a law to prevent and reduce homelessness was introduced. The Homelessness Reduction Act aims to tackle the homelessness crisis sweeping the country. It placed new responsibilities on councils to support those at risk. But how has Reading fared since the introduction of the act, in April 2018?

Government Report on Rough-Sleeping

The number of rough sleepers in England has increased significantly in recent years. According to Government statistics, the total number of rough sleepers in England in autumn 2018 was 4,677, an increase of 165% compared with 2010 and fractionally lower than the 2017 estimate of 4,751.

Many rough sleepers have high levels of complex needs; mental health problems, drug and alcohol dependencies, and institutional experiences are common factors. The longer someone sleeps rough the greater the risk that physical and mental health problems will worsen.

Rough sleeping is costly to society as a whole; rough sleepers are likely to have more frequent and sustained contact with public services compared to other citizens.

See full article

Modern Slavery and Homelessness

It is a tragic truth that many people in this country are being severely exploited and some in actual modern slavery whereby they are not paid and have minimal housing provision. Often they have been trafficked here and their passports removed from them so that they have no status.

Useful article and links to resources regarding exploitation / slavery in modern Britain and connections to homelessness from the clewer initiative

https://www.theclewerinitiative.org/homeless

Lord Bourne visits Reading

Lord Bourne, Minister for Faith, visited Reading University on 28th June 2019 to meet with various representatives of Faith Groups working in the community. Among these were ourselves (ReadiFood, ReadiStreet and B4N), The Mustard Tree (Rahab, Lifeline, Engage Befriending), Street Pastors and Sadaka.

Sadly many other groups were missing and time was so short that we could really only scratch the surface of all that great work being done in Reading and especially the vast array of Christian initiatives. However it is good to have been able to feedback from the grass roots what is going on here.

One major theme that was brought up was the clear lack of conversation between different faith groups in the town, and generally, which could be so helpful in healing communities when disasters like Grenfell or a terrorist attack occur.

It almost goes without saying that the government long for greater community cohesion, for barriers to come down and bridges to be built. There is though a lot of work to do in enabling the essentially secular authorities to understand why different faiths exist at all and what they stand for and what the real tensions are in working together.

Gather National Summit

As Director of FCG I was privileged to be part of the 2019 Gather Summit in Milton Keynes this week (26/27 June 2019)

It is so thrilling to hear of all the fantastic work being done by Churches and Christian Charities up and down the U.K.

Even more exciting is the networks which are forming across towns, cities and regions.

At the end of the day only the transforming power of Jesus can bring real hope and transformation to communities and individuals.

It was inspiring to hear many stories of what in some cases are miraculous transformations. People are beginning to see that Christians only want the very best for others, for individuals, families and whole communities.

http://www.gather.global/gather-national-summit-2019/
Dying people waiting for Universal Credit – turning to foodbanks
https://welfareweekly.com/dying-people-forced-to-wait-for-universal-credit-are-turning-to-food-banks/
Museum of Homelessness!

A rather bizarre but poignant website has appeared featuring the names of people who have died homeless in Britain.

It is a tragic reflection on the state of our nation that so many people are dying on our streets, under our bridges, behind bins and in shop doorways.

Click on the graphic below to go to the website.

http://museumofhomelessness.org/dying-homeless-project/
The Cross of Christ

The greatest evangelist of the 20th Century died just before Easter 2018

Before he died he recorded a video which explains in the simplest but clearest way what the Christian message is.

Do take the time to watch, it could change your eternity and your life.

 

Charity of the Year……Again!

Blake Morgan Reading made FAITH Christian Group to be Charity of the Year for the 3rd Year running in 2018-2019.

FCG are hugely proud and pleased with the relationship which has developed over several years.

The staff at the Reading branch support us through volunteering at our B4N Winter Night Shelter, Corporate Days sorting food at ReadiFood Foodbank, Supermarket Weekend Collections and volunteering at ReadiStreet, our nightly street outreach.

Blake Morgan Reading – FAITH Thank you Very Much.

Support us in the Sales

As you think about taking advantage of the post-Christmas sales have a look to see whether you can shop and support us at the same time. Click here ……..