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Churches are to help those living on streets to eat, wash and sleep
A group of churches in Bradford will be opening their doors to homeless people this winter, offering them somewhere to escape the cold during the next three months.
The Inn Churches project, which starts today, will see nine churches in the city provide a space for people to wash, change, sleep and eat seven nights a week.
The scheme, which was piloted in Bradford last year and saw 56 people cared for at seven churches, is also taking place in Shipley for the first time.
This year, more than 260 volunteers from 56 churches have come together to make the project possible. Food has been collected from harvest festivals and Christmas fairs and donations of hats, hot water bottles and sleeping bags gathered at churches across the city.
Shawna Splawn, who has helped co-ordinate the scheme, said: “What started out very small but was so exciting last year has just mushroomed.
“I am not sure how word got out but has grown so much. What is inspiring is the believers are seeing this as a great opportunity to live out the Gospel and I am inspired by the overwhelming response of this city.
“Bradford ticks so many boxes that are not good with poverty and crime and so on but there are people scattered over this city, who are often not especially visible, who are supporting people in need and giving of their services.”
Of the 56 individuals cared for last year, half were found long-term accommodation as a result of the project.
Juli Thompson, Inn Churches’ co-ordinator, said: “I have experienced homelessness myself and I never forgot what it was like not to have a place to call your own.
“We want to provide a safe place and for people to realise they are of value and have the chance to change their lives around.”
The Reverend Canon Sam Randall, Bishop’s Officer for Church in the World, who is also helping with the scheme, said: “This project has captured the heart of many across the city.
“It is powerful evidence of what can happen when ‘the church’ comes together to work as one, in service to the poor.”