Why do people think so much more about homelessness at Christmas?

It’s probably because we associate Christmas with being at home and being surrounded by family and having fun. The thought of people being desperately cold, alone and vulnerable is the sharpest possible contrast and it engenders widespread sympathy and compassion. 

No room at the inn

But there are also deeper reasons.  It’s also because at the heart of the Christmas story is the humble birth of a baby born into poverty and hardship. The Son of God was laid in an animal feeding trough because there was no room in the inn.

It’s remarkable how many of the most well-known homelessness charities have been established by Christians and church leaders. Dig into the history of most homeless charities or housing associations and you will almost always find a church leader behind the origins. The Victorian era saw the birth of the Salvation Army, along with others like the West London Mission and the Church Army. In the 1960s, church leaders were the founders of Shelter, Crisis and Centrepoint. 

Faith at work

For some of these charities, faith has become just a footnote in their history, but the last 15 years has seen a whole new generation of Christian activism. 

Hundreds of churches have served as venues for night shelters, often rotating around seven different locations in a week. Here at Hope into Action our mission is to enable the church to house the homeless, providing a long-term, holistic response to homelessness. It is a sign of the enduring power of faith to make a difference.

“I can sum it up in one word: hopeless. I was deep into addiction…cold, lonely…I had pushed away everyone that loved me, and I was on the streets with no way out.
Antonio, Hope into Action tenant

And this contribution is being increasingly recognised by local and central government. Up until earlier this year I spent four years as an adviser to the government within the Rough Sleeping Initiative with a role specifically focused on the role of churches and faith groups in responding to homelessness. The role was needed because in every town and city in the country, the work of the church is relevant to addressing homelessness.

I believe this growing acknowledgement of our social contribution is part of a wider appreciation of the important role faith plays in our society.  

Justin Brierley recently released a podcast titled 'The Surprising re-birth of belief in God', which charts the growing interest in faith and the widespread rejection of the ‘New Atheism’ of people like Richard Dawkins. Influential thinkers such as psychologist Jordan Peterson and historian Tom Holland have powerfully argued for the role Christianity has played in forming our concepts of human rights, welfare and charity. These philosophical truths have been expressed practically in the Christian response to homelessness.

Christmas is a great time to consider giving to homelessness charities. But let’s remember that homelessness is not just for Christmas - it destroys lives all-year round. Let’s put our faith into action throughout the year and be confident in the difference Jesus can make.

You can support our From Homelessness to Hope appeal now, and any donations you make will be doubled over the next few weeks.

Thank you,


CEO, Hope into Action