In his address to Catholic charities, MPs and supporters at the annual Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) parliamentary reception, Cardinal Vincent Nichols focused on homelessness and, in particular, the rise in ‘hidden homelessness’ (2 November 2016).
Describing them as “under the radar”, the hidden homeless are those who may have a job but are sleeping on sofas or spare rooms or in B’n’Bs. Young people in this position may stay with a different friend each night or go to all-night parties to avoid sleeping on the street.
The Cardinal stressed that prevention must be the key priority:
“Family relationship breakdown is a leading contributor to homelessness among single men, and a leading cause of family breakdown is financial difficulty. Then there is the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction. And of course, those without suitable accommodation upon release from prison are the most likely to find themselves on the streets, back in its vicious cycle.”
He also commended the contribution of Catholic charities and parishes:
“All over England and Wales, parishes and Charities offer a range of support to people who are homeless: from extensive skills training, counselling, hostels and move-on accommodation, to simply offering a hot meal and clothing to those with nowhere else to turn. Indeed, in Westminster Diocese we calculate that in our parishes over 4 million hours of volunteers’ time are given every year.”
Cardinal Nichols also stated that the Church stood ready to engage in greater partnership with govenment, central and local, in order to truly serve the common good – the good that omits nobody.
Finally, the Cardinal spoke about the link between imprisonment and homelessness referencing an “urgent crisis” in prisons in England and Wales with escalating levels of violence, suicide, self-harm and assaults on staff.
Reaffirming his call for prison reform, Cardinal Nichols concluded by launching a new Bishops’ Conference document on the subject:
“I am delighted today to launch our latest document on prison reform. It is called ‘The Right Road’. Drawing on expertise from Catholic charities, chaplains and experts working in this field, it makes recommendations for reform, giving the Church a clear voice in this important work… I gladly commend the document to you all.”
Cardinal Nichols announced the launch of ‘The Right Road’. You can download it below or to the right of this article.