On the 24th March, the Southlands Methodist Trust and the University Chaplaincy team hosted a discussion on the faith community’s response to homelessness at Southlands College, University of Roehampton. The event marked homelessness awareness week.
Susanna Wesley Foundation Director Sue Miller and Southlands College Deputy Head Nick Mayhew Smith facilitated the discussion with:
- Mike Hyden of advocacy charity JustUs
- Rev Luke Larner, DTh student at the University of Roehampton
- Dr Paul Morrison, trustee of the Trussell Trust
- Matt Peacock of Arts and Homelessness International
- and poet in residence Justin.
You can watch their contributions below (with apologies for the sound quality on those recorded in person).
Students, staff and the Southlands Methodist Trust also teamed up with two homelessness charities to hold a sponsored sleepout on Roehampton University’s campus lawns. An impressive £2,500 was raised during the week-long campaign, which culminated in a night under the stars for around 20 hardy participants.
Designed to raise awareness of homelessness, the week was set up by Professor Ann David and Dr Michał Garapich at the university, helped by student leaders and the chaplaincy team. The event was supported by the Southlands Methodist Trust, which had originally funded Dr Garapich’s earliest research into homelessness around 10 years ago.
The SMT paid for the participation of poet and advocate Justin, who posts on social media under the tag Surfing Sofas (@surfingsofas on Instagram). Justin, who has experienced homelessness himself, kept participants entertained and informed with a mix of commentary and performance throughout the week.
Funds were raised for two well-established charities. One of them is Arts & Homelessness International, which has supported Justin in his development as a poet and advocate. The other charity is Friends of Essex and London Homeless. A third speaker, Mike Hyden from charity JustUs, talked of the need to tackle homelessness as a social justice issue, rather than simply a question of charitable giving. That point was echoed by Dr Paul Morrison, a trustee of the Trussell Trust, in the discussion panel that was organised by the Southlands Methodist Trust and hosted by the university’s chaplaincy team.