After managing the winter night shelter, Churches in Peterborough have cemented close links with each other and with their local authority. This allowed them to respond quickly at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and to launch the continuing campaign that not 1 person should be living on the streets in their area. The Light Project Peterborough is coordinating the campaign.
Their CEO Steven Pettican shares their story…
On March 26 2020, Light Project Peterborough (LPP) was approached by our local authority for assistance with the ‘Everyone In’ initiative to get everyone off the streets. After leading churches from across the Peterborough area to run the 2019/20 Peterborough Winter Night Shelter the close relationship the local authority enabled is to know this was coming.
Fifteen churches from across the denominations had been working together on the night shelter and 100’s of volunteers amassed over 7000 volunteering hours opening their doors for 123 nights straight to get people out of the cold. Of the 57 guests in this winter season 47 were cared for, supported, and ‘loved’ off the streets and into accommodation.
But now, ‘Everyone In’, and the beginning of our local campaign to say not 1 person should be on the streets now or at any time. Within a day, the LPP leadership mobilised staff, church volunteers and community members to offer 24-hour support at one of the local hotels. Within a week, 80 people previously sleeping on the streets were being fed, having their health needs met and laughing with volunteers on the joys of having a clean bed and their own shower!
In Peterborough, one of the LPP teams runs the hub of daytime services for people on the streets. The Garden House is a partnership centre where professionals and church volunteers can work together to meet the needs of people who come with some of the most heartfelt troubles one would hear. Every day at least one new person comes through the doors. Peterborough is a very diverse city and there is a real beauty in hearing laughter and jokes in multiple languages as people get helped; there is healing of the broken hearted that brings a sound of joy only Gods love can bring.
At the height of the pandemic the LPP team were leading the church and community to care for 120 people in three hotel settings. This work continues and the kindness of those helping just keeps on giving! The law has changed a number of times with our government leaders doing there best to make the best decisions, but in Peterborough we have used our not 1 campaign to lead the way on working with civic partners, other charities, community members and church communities to say why should we stop! If we can get everyone in once, then why can we not keep this going?
The stories of change and the response to work together to change the system are what inspire us most. Can we ‘The Church’ say “not 1” with one combined voice in words and actions? Not 1 person on the streets, not 1 person cold and unloved, not 1 person left to rot in the wet whilst we all walk by?