The Anglican Diocese of Adelaide in partnership with Anglicare SA held its first Connecting with Homeless People: Guidelines for Parishes workshop on Tuesday 21 August at St Peter’s Church Glenelg.
The purpose of the event was to launch a set of guidelines that aim to provide people in parishes with ideas and advice on how to best respond to the presence of homeless people on site safely and effectively. In other words, this is to enable the best possible Christian response to the reality of homelessness when it reaches the door of the local church and where homeless people may sleep rough on church sites.
These guidelines include ideas and advice on how to offer hospitality to homeless people in short term crisis alongside a focus on support and referral to enable homeless people begin a transition from homelessness to home. These guidelines are produced for people in parishes who may have contact with homeless people including parish clergy and parish secretaries, other parish workers and volunteers on parish sites.
The guidelines are the result of collaboration between the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide and AnglicareSA through a working group which has included parish clergy with some direct experience of homelessness on parish sites. They are offered as pointers to action based on current experience and learning and it is likely that this will be revised as time passes and more is learnt.
Anglicare’s Director of Mission and Anglican Community Engagement Peter Burke said of the event, “We’ve learnt a lot from the workshop and it’s been a really good way of guiding us into the future and we hope that the guidelines will provide an opportunity for people to have a conversation. This started as a request from the Diocese to Anglicare and it’s been a great collaboration.”
Peter stressed the importance of the role of parishes to support Anglicare’s work in the community, “What we need is a combination of structured and random acts of kindness; so the structured acts of kindness are knowing what professional services (such as AnglicareSA) can provide, but we also need people who are prepared to be ‘people in community’, who connect with people in their community as part of their ministry... we’re all in this business together.”
Peter was also quick to point out the way in which projects like this work to support the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide’s new Vision 2022, “Among all the aspects of the Vision 2022, the one that exercises my mind most of all is the one around Innovation and Advocacy because I actually think what we’ve done today, in producing the guidelines, is a little piece of innovation and its actually lead us to some conversation around advocacy. For example, there was deep concern this morning as people became aware that if you have no fixed address, you can often be denied certain medical services – that is an advocacy issue! And maybe the church collectively needs to be a prophetic voice that says, ‘we need to do something better than this in our community’.”