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Viewpoint from Revd Canon Simon Ward 04/01/2019

SIMON WARD 12-2018Revd Canon Simon Ward
Team Rector of Great Yarmouth

as published in the Yarmouth Mercury


The plight of the homeless has been spoken about before in this column. Over the festive season I hope many of us spared a thought for those who have no home. Statistically the number of homeless rough sleepers has risen across the UK and the number of hidden homeless (those who have temporary but unsecured accommodation) runs into hundreds of thousands
If you take a trip to Ditchingham you will find a remarkable community called Emmaus.  It’s a place where you can buy some bargain second hand furniture and other treasures, but it is more than that. Emmaus communities (29 across the UK) bring together people who have experienced homelessness; they live, eat, and work together and as a community seek to tackle the problems caused by homelessness
dove leftThe chief ingredient residents receive is the support and solidarity found in each other. Emmaus communities are also self-funding as they generate their own income by the community working together in a social enterprise, such as selling second hand goods
Living in a residential community isn’t always an easy place to be. Stresses and niggles are inevitable but it can offer the companionship and support that many people who have been homeless have lost. This can be key to helping someone to stop, rethink and begin to regain some control and steadiness in their lives. Some companions stay at Emmaus for many years, others move on after a short time
Dove rightThe crucial element which companions speak of is community. This is what I have always felt makes Emmaus unique. A loving, caring and supportive community will naturally find a way to support its members who are most vulnerable. Last summer the government promised £100million to eliminate homelessness by 2027. This is welcome but the task is huge. Acting to solve homelessness is very hard and the causes so varied. Frequently there is no single cause in a homeless person’s story but rather a cocktail of causes leading to homelessness
Caring communities make a difference. It’s the start of the New Year and we’re all full of good ideas, fresh resolutions, and fine intentions for 2019. But can we make building community our aim for this year? So many of the people in need (not just the homeless) we meet are in search of belonging and community. What could be your target to be a better neighbour and build a stronger community in the year to come?


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