28 February 2020

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community

I’m Dan, and through the Methodist Internship I’ve been given the opportunity to work as a researcher for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community.

The Commission is bringing an authentically Christian perspective to housing, guided by theology but grounded in people’s experiences. Solving the housing crisis requires us all to work together. As well as asking others to make changes, a lot of our work focuses on how churches can make a real impact. Churches’ responses to homelessness – like night shelters – are important, but many are looking at the housing and homelessness crisis in a more holistic, preventative way.

We’re encouraging more churches to work on housing in two ways. We’re enabling this work, by providing funding and advice to exemplar schemes, supporting partner organisations, and producing resources on best practise when dealing with housing needs. Ultimately, though, we need to get churches thinking about meeting housing need, in the way that they instinctively think about setting up a night shelter or food bank.

We’ve found that there’s great work going on, but their stories need to be told. Take Shieldfield Art Works, a Methodist project in Shieldfield in Newcastle, which is helping residents to have a voice, challenging unaffordable, unaccountable development in their area. Or the Keswick Community Housing Trust, set up by Churches Together in Keswick, which works with churches to use their land to build genuinely affordable housing for local people.

After seeing plenty of these schemes already, I’m really excited to help more to happen. Those who set up the project in Keswick say that they had no experience before they started, yet they’ve provided shelter to thirty-four families. With a bit more support, churches could make a real difference.

The Commission is ambitious, so working ecumenically is important: we want to work together to make the biggest impact. To help with this, I spend one day a week working through the Joint Public Issues Team, to hear about the campaigns and projects in Methodist, United Reformed and Baptist churches.

There have been some great projects involving Methodist churches over the years, and the Connexional Property Strategy, informed by ambitious motions from Conference, provides a great mandate for more of this work. Over the next few months, I’m going to be visiting some of these, and telling you about the great work that’s going on. I’d also love to hear from you if you know of a scheme which meets local housing need. Together, we can make a real difference.

Dan Simpson

 

You can hear Dan talking about his work on the Methodist Podcast here.

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