Sunday, December 21, 2008

Down and Out in Birmingham

On Thursday afternoon, I went round the city centre with Paul Atkin giving out some presents to some homeless guys. Between us we must have given away about a dozen packages, each containing a hat, a scarf, a pair of gloves, and a pair of socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant. Many of the guys shook our hands and one even gave us a big hug. He said that he had wanted some gloves for some time and that it was lovely to wear a new woollen hat. Many of us had donated the contents and Paul had already given out lots of these presents and has since packed some more. Paul knows these guys as he has been working with them for about ten years now.

Paul came to our church when he married Jackie this year. Our little daughter Callie was one of their bridesmaids. Since then our church has launched a ministry to the homeless headed up by Paul and Jackie. They spend their time talking to people and helping people in practical ways such as showing them the right forms to fill in to get a flat or distributing clothes, blankets and sleeping bags that have been donated.

On Fridays, we use our little church building as a Drop In Centre. People will come for a coffee & sandwiches, play pool or dominoes and to do some art. I have been dropping in myself for half an hour or so most weeks and mixing with the people. This Friday, Steve our church elder, made us all a glorious curry as a Christmas treat. There was about thirty of us there and we knew that several would be sleeping on the streets that night. We have seen a number of people from the Drop In join us in our Sunday church gatherings at the community centre. And not surprisingly last week there were many there for our church’s Christmas dinner. It is just great to be around these people.

There is a very good account of what we are doing ministering to the homeless in Birmingham, from the website for our network of churches – Lifelink International. It is worth watching the videos. They are not just people talking. There are some good shots of the Drop In and the work on the streets. It gives you the flavour of what we are doing.

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