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Christians urged to pray for 'hope' for rough sleepers as lockdown eases

by Heather Preston

The YMCA warns that many homeless people will be concerned about their 'next steps' after being temporarily taken off the streets during lockdown and has called for Christians to pray.

The UK Government housed thousands of rough sleepers in hotels, B & Bs and other forms of emergency accommodation over the past few months in order to protect them during the coronavirus pandemic. As lockdown measures ease it has announced a further £85 million fund to stop them returning to the streets.

Liam Preston from YMCA England & Wales welcomes this money, saying a lack of access to services and trouble securing rental tenancies are amongst some of the challenges that face homeless people as the country begins to return to normal.

"Often, landlords aren't so keen to rent to homeless people. What the Government's funding is looking to do is to secure rental deposits and moving on accommodation for homeless to give them that first step off of the streets or out of temporary accommodation," he says.

Preston says that simply putting a roof over their heads isn't enough to ensure lives are turned around for good and explains how the Government funding will also work to provide them with support teams and services.

"Some homeless people might have mental health difficulties, challenges around substance misuse or lack of education. And so actually what we need to do is to provide a wraparound service to give them as much support as possible.

"You have to give people the opportunity to succeed. If you put in those interventions and provide people with the support they need, they will get better and they will be able to sustain it long term."

There have been a number of reports of homeless people with a history of alcohol or substance abuse overcoming their addictions during lockdown as a result of the support and housing they have received. 

Preston has urged Christians to pray that the hope of a different life that many people have encountered during the pandemic is not "dashed" as they are taken out of emergency accommodation.

"They'll have been given some level of hope, because they've been taken off the streets. Pray for those who have seen that light and are ready to try and make a change in their lives. Pray for them to maintain hope and resilience."

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