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Posts Tagged ‘homelessness’

Gone Autumn News

Those of you who follow the progress of Gone, our friend who’s been long term homeless, will be sad to hear that he’s back in prison for a stint. The good news is that he managed over four months in the hostel up the road from us and they’re happy to have him back when he’s released. Sadly, he was in a bit of a state after our two week holiday, which coincided with hostel staff leave. That was when he managed to get himself arrested and we weren’t looped in so couldn’t help at the magistrate’s.

Prison will also be an opportunity for him to dry out a bit in preparation for another go at living in the hostel. We are still optimistic that he will be able to tackle life from his place near us, and we’re praying for him and planning for his release. Do continue to #prayforGone. God is working in his life, and in ours.

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Last week I found out that our local YMCA branch are auctioning some pretty cool stuff. There’s a whole bunch of activities and items being auctioned in a very good cause – their Open Door project which arranges supported lodgings for homeless teenagers. You can bid for

There is also a charity ball this Saturday night at The Hawthorns (the West Brom football ground) to celebrate 5 years of Open Door, and to raise money for this brilliant scheme. There are still a few tickets left for a great night out to support Open Door. The Vicar and I have been invited too and will be there. It’s our first night out like this in I can’t remember how long. I shall have to do a serious shoe audit this week to check if I have anything that I can actually dance in. Maybe see you there?

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Gone has been staying in our chicken shed for a few weeks now. It’s dry and sheltered and he feels safe there. We haven’t seen him much because he can get in there through a side gate, so he’s mostly been coming in to sleep and then leaving without knocking on the kitchen window or the front door. He spends the day on the streets and visiting other helpful Vicarages.

It had been a few days and I mentioned to the Vicar that we’d not seen him for a bit, so the Vicar turned off the light in the shed, which ensures that Gone will come and talk to us to get the light put back on. That was last night, and then this morning we were told by a friend that Gone has gone. He’s gone back to prison. And that’s why we’ve not seen him. He’s not going to be away for long, but at least he’ll be dry and sheltered and fed for a few weeks.

GoneOnce again he will be inside for a short while and then released with money and a room in a hostel allocated to him. He’ll spend the money on Frosty Jack and buying a mobile phone and a radio or video camera, and he’ll come to our doorstep and tell us he’s not going to the hostel because he doesn’t trust people in hostels. And I expect he’ll ask to sleep in our shed again and we’ll go through the cycle of approaching various agencies and wondering what on earth can be done for him.

Sometimes I think this loop will continue for ever. He’s someone who cannot really cope with the system there is. Over the years many kindhearted people have helped him, but he’s never managed any long term stability.

So please pray for him, and for those of us who know him and want something better for him. We have a short break now and it would be good to think through some options for him. Pray that he’d work out what he should do himself, and pray we’d be wise too and have the energy to help again. Pray for Gone.

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A sweet wee dog called at the Vicarage again today. With his owner, of course. We see them from time to time – always polite, good to chat to, usually asking for a little food. And homeless. His man is beginning to think it’s too cold to keep on camping out. But his man hates staying around other people. He likes his tent in the woods. We invited him to come back tomorrow to think about housing options. It really is getting too cold for camping. We sent them both on their way with a packed supper and a torch. Praying their night isn’t too uncomfortable as I listen to the wind whistling outside.

The dog had a coat on too. Needed it.

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Who has been sleeping in the holly bush at the entrance to the church? We’ve not seen them, but they seem to have built quite a little den. But since Gone is away at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, we don’t have an immediate suspect. I’m afraid the bush dweller may be disappointed tonight, as we’re clearing out this evening and the Vicar will be taking the debris to the dump.

There’s a funeral in church tomorrow and it’s respectful to the mourners to provide a tidy churchyard. The bush is right next to the church steps by the main entrance door. The church is being cleaned too, as we’ve had scaffolding in whilst damp plaster and ant chewed woodwork right up in the ceiling above the chancel has been removed and repaired. Theological college training can never cover all the bases for ministry life.

Bed (and sitting room it seems) in the bush

Bed (and sitting room it seems) in the bush

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Frantic writing for IVP continues, so only a small hello and an encouragement from me today. I’m about to head off on my annual pilgrimage to the Proc Trust Minsters’ Wives conference. I shall report back on what the well dressed vicar’s wife is wearing this season.

But I wanted to let you know that we briefly saw Gone in church on Sunday morning. He was happy and tidy and seemed well and hadn’t been drinking. He waved his house keys at us but said he was having a little trouble budgetting his electric and his bacon had gone off in the fridge. We were very pleased to see him. The Vicar asked him to come back later so he could put money on the electricity card for him but he headed off before we were able to do that.

So he’s managed about 3 months in a house and is keeping himself together. Good news!

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Good news came in about Gone tonight. He’s been sleeping in our outside loo for over 2 weeks following a similar amount of time under our hedge during some truly atrocious weather. We’d got quite used to his taps on the kitchen window asking for a hot water bottle to be filled. More tricky to get used to was him leaning on the doorbell for far too long, usually when the kids are already in bed.

He’d managed to burn almost all his housing bridges in our area, and we were beginning to despair of finding a solution for him. Even Betel said they couldn’t take him before Christmas, when all their teams are busy fundraising, as they said they wouldn’t have the people needed to support someone so vulnerable.

But somehow Gone has managed to find some accommodation that will take him. And our friend the lovely Rev Very Benevolent spent all day today driving Gone about to find the necessary paperwork to sign into his warm new room. We are grateful to God for this provision for Gone, who we have become really quite fond of. He’s almost like an extra child – sweet and frustrating in pretty much equal measure. And now it’s time to think of some strategies to keep Gone in his new home and away from our damp and uncomfortable hedge.

We pray especially that Gone would have the support he needs to deal with his cycle of alcohol, homelessness and frustration. And that all those who have been concerned with him (there are a good many of us I can tell you, from churches, council and other agencies) will be able to get together to put some of this support in place. Next year I don’t want to be posting another pre-Christmas story of how Gone has just found somewhere to live after spending weeks sleeping in our garden.

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