Methodist President calls for all to take responsibility for homelessness

26 November 2019

We live in one world where the homeless are our collective responsibility, the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson said in a recent visit to Whitechapel Mission in London which serves 300 breakfasts each day to the homeless.

Whitechapel Mission, in the heart of the East End of London, recently celebrated its 143rd anniversary. Open every day, the Mission served 108,398 breakfasts in the last year with the help of 5, 200 volunteers.

Dr Barbara Glasson, visited the Mission to give thanks for the work of the staff and volunteers. Speaking after a thanksgiving service she said: “We are really proud of the mission which is very much part of our Methodist heritage and our family.”

Tony Miller, Centre Manager for the past 40 years who works alongside his wife Sue said, “The Mission opens its doors each day at 6am prompt for guests who can take a shower, choose some fresh clothes to wear, feel the warmth of the welcome and eat a hearty breakfast. Once the guests are warm, clean and fed they can access other facilities including mobile phone charging, and get help with combating addiction, receive dentistry and other health care provision, and debt counselling.”

This year 5,698 people have used the Mission’s services which also include support in getting housed and back to work.

Speaking about causes of homelessness, Dr Glasson said, “The vulnerabilities that lead to homelessness are well known to us. Relationship breakdown, debt, addictions, mental ill-health. These are the things that disrupt human well-being and lead to chaotic lives and cyclical and destructive patterns of behaviour.”

Calling for people to challenge themselves and the causes of homelessness, Dr Glasson said: “There are not two Britains, North and South are part of the same country, there are not two Londons rich and poor, there are not two societies, there is only one world.”

Guests shared their stories on film at the recent thanksgiving service. Dave said he was initially, “mesmerised that it was warm inside” and spoke of how so many people had been let down by the authorities but had found stability and companionship at the Mission. Carl spoke about feeling the “invisible arm around you” from the Mission’s volunteers and staff.

Michael Spurr, Chair of Trustees, said: “Please continue to pray for all at the Mission; for our guests, especially as with the onset of colder, wetter weather, life on the streets becomes much more challenging; for Tony and all the staff as they tirelessly strive to help all those who come to us in need, and to our trustees as they seek to plan for the future.”

Photo: the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference with Sue Miller of the Whitechapel Mission.