“Is it alright to pretend that you don’t notice. Is it alright to look the other way. Is it alright to say that you won’t listen, while she’s lying there, she’s the one we just don’t see”.
These words taken from the chorus of “A Song for Bernie”, (written by our patron Jonny Walker who passed away earlier this year) are a collection of three rhetorical questions that challenge us each day as we, with an incredible team of volunteer heroes, work to show those for whom life is tough that they are worthy, that hope is within their reach and, most importantly, that they are loved.
Both directly, and indirectly through the churches and community groups that we work alongside, Inn Churches provides the three most essential fundamentals that we all need as we navigate through life; food, a safe place to live and, most importantly love. It’s not twee or idealistic in some way to say that love is a fundamental; we believe that a commitment to transformation, motivated by love, really does change everything. The down side to all of this is that we still daily have to be challenged by three questions raised in Bernie’s Song. It’s not alright to pretend that we don’t notice; but people do. It’s not alright to look the other way; but people do. It’s not alright to say that we won’t listen; but people do. Still many that we work alongside end up lying on the street, in an unsafe space, in unfamiliar places. Still they quickly become the ones we just don’t see.
We have crafted, work towards and have achieved solutions to fulfilling those three fundamentals – food, shelter and love. Through our Storehouse Centre we provide good food to community groups and churches to distribute to those who are grappling with the issue of food poverty, we run a pay-as-you-feel cafe, we do a stack load of other stuff to make the option of a healthy and nutritious meal a reality. Alongside 17 churches this winter, we will host homeless people throughout the coldest months (December to March). Providing a bed, a warm evening meal and breakfast. Underpinning all of the activity that takes place through the work of Inn Churches, is our commitment to love – at our convenience and inconvenience. That’s all great, but for us the work begins where those we serve are at.
On Thursday 4th November, members of the Inn Churches team rubbed shoulders with a bunch of every day heroes as they slept on the street to raise awareness of the issue of street homelessness, and funds for the work of Inn Churches. Over the last few months we have reflected on importance of the value of “choice”!
This reflection was at the forefront of our minds as we prepared for and took part in this years sleepout. Each of us had the choice to take part. That’s something thats really struck us each year – the next morning we can feel how much our bones feel frozen and we’re shattered – so some of us choose to take the day off work, have a hot bath and catch up on sleep, because we can; we have the choice. We chose to do it on an annual basis; because we have the choice. We give the opportunity to people to sponsor us and cheer us on from the sidelines via social media. But, beyond clicking a button, people can really do something to be a part of giving the gift of choice by playing their part in blocking the issue of street homelessness and “choice-less-ness” (that’s not a real word, it’s an Inn Churches-ism, but you get the gist) before it happens.
The solution doesn’t lie within a magic manual, at the end of an inspiring course, within the confines of a charities objects etc. The solution comes when we become more selfless as individuals and communities and, when we do a better job at…guess what…loving each other.
On behalf of everyone at Inn Churches, and importantly, on behalf of those we work alongside to support thank you to this years every day heroes who gave up their beds for the night and slept alongside those for whom sleeping on the street is a daily experience, thank you for standing above the parapet to do your bit to give the gift of choice. The story continues, we will continue to work tirelessly until it is universally accepted that it’s not alright to pretend that we don’t notice, it’s not alright to look the other way, it’s not alright to say that we won’t listen. Love makes the difference, love changes everything. Join us in our commitment to be better humans.
Love to you all!
– written and produced for Inn Churches charity