Giving someone their life back

Albert Bogle December 09, 2017 0 1
Giving someone their life back

I have been getting myself prepared for the Sleep in the Park in just a few hours time. I have got my thermals and warm sleeping bag. It’s all a bit of an adventure but for those faced with the prospect of no place to lay their head night after night, it’s a different story. It’s not an adventure - it’s a nightmare. I am delighted that Derek Browning the Moderator the General Assembly (pictured with me) is also taking part. This event helps highlight the need and also the work that many excellent agencies carry out night after night to help some of the most vulnerable in society. 

Of course it is not just about finding a house or a home for someone who has been alienated from mainstream society. It is about facing and tackling the underlying causes of homelessness. These include poverty, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction and many who have been badly treated by society as children, growing in situations where abuse and disrespect have been the factors that have shaped their lives. 

So it’s not just about giving someone a home. It is about giving someone a life back, or a life they never thought they could sustain and maintain. 

To date over 7,000 people have signed up to sleep in below freezing temperatures to highlight the plight of rough sleepers and also those who find themselves on the verge of being homeless. Many of us may find it hard to image how it can be that someone can be sleeping in a bed one night and on the street the next. 

The fact is it could happen to any one of us. Not many people have a lot of money saved to help weather the stormy days. I remember reading a report in which it was suggested that the majority of the population are no more than 3 months away from streamline poverty. If illness comes into your life and you struggle to keep your job, it is not long before things begin to go pear shaped. Family and friends can help for a while but eventually some people discover their network of support becomes exhausted and they don’t know where to turn. 

We need to support and encourage the role that government and charitable agencies can play in preventing people from falling into the trap of endless debt and social isolation. Taking part in this event is a first step to engaging a much larger group of people to become advocates for a fairer society.

Finding a way forward is essential and the latest report commissioned by Social Bite and produced by Herriot Watt University in October 2017 seeks to offer a greater understanding of the causes and effects of homelessness upon an individual but also upon society at large. A brief quote from the executive summary of the report highlights the enormity of the problem.

This report starts from the premise that private charitable giving cannot provide a comprehensive and sustainable solution to homelessness in Scotland. That can only emerge from a system-wide approach and policy commitment to addressing the structural causes of homelessness, in particular poverty and inadequate affordable housing supply. However, it is hoped that the evidence provided in this report, together with the profile-raising activities of Social Bite, can help to shape the public debate in a progressive direction that makes positive policy responses more likely. It is also intended that the additional resources generated by Social Bite fundraising will be deployed on evidence-based practical solutions that will, if they prove effective, be mainstreamed as part of the public policy response in the longer-term. 

I decided to take part in the sleep out because I believe that Christians need to stand with those in our communities who are seeking to bring about a more just and compassionate society. During the evening Sanctuary First will be handing out a a little card (pictured) with the message:


“Together, we have made history tonight

nudging our nation one step closer to

becoming a more compassionate and

caring society.

Let’s ensure the job gets finished.”

Very Rev Albert Bogle