Ed Walker reflects on the year behind us and shares his hope and gratitude for churches housing the homeless. 

This time last year: our offices had just shut, no more house purchasing, our first tenant had caught covid. How many would follow? Would the church survive? Who would be remembering the homeless in all this? 

So I wanted to write to give you some reflections on the year.  

The health of our staff, church volunteers and tenants was our greatest priority. Tragically, one of our tenants died due to covid, which he caught in hospital. However, this time last year I feared many more of our 275+ tenants would contract it than has passed and relatively few of our staff or volunteers have also.  I am so grateful for that. While most of our frontline staff are now vaccinated, we remain disciplined.  

We also saw a tsunami of need amongst the homeless. The government, in the main, has responded well with a greater spotlight on giving tenants homes, which we welcome. We launched our own ‘call to alms’ and were delighted by the response: 

  • In the past year we’ve opened 14 homes.  
  • These include new towns like: Bournemouth (this week), Bury St Edmunds (next), but also Southampton, Oakham, Great Yarmouth.  
  • Next week there will be 90 homes open! Each of these homes are in partnership with the church! 
  • We have a further 19 homes due to open including in Ashford, Corby and Dover. 

This past year I’ve met more church leaders than ever, and been really inspired as they, supported by their virtual congregations, are striving to give the homeless a home. The doors maybe shut but the church, feels more alive than ever. 

As we moved from winter into spring, I heard so many encouraging stories from our wonderful tenants:  

“I came to Hope into Action broken and afraid, leaving domestic abuse and violence. But I left a much stronger woman who was able to move forward in my life. Coming to hope into action changed my life. 

I have met many, truly wonderful people along the way and made new genuine friendships which I will always hold dear. I am now living and feeling joyful. Instead of struggling to barely survive. The church that supports my hope house has become my church family and I have become a part of a supportive and wonderful community. Without them I wouldn't be where I am, 

I'm so thankful and grateful. 

I lived in a beautiful house that was made into a home by my church family, befrienders and my empowerment worker. 

They are all strong inspirational women whose kindness, love and support helped me begin to trust, heal and move forward. To say thank you to these wonderful women whom I love will never be enough. But I do thank them and I am so grateful. 

And to my Empowerment Worker who was kind, compassionate and caring. You are a wonderful and strong inspirational women who gave me strength when I had none. 

Thank you for being there, I needed you so much. 

Hope into action will always be a part of my family. Thank you isn't enough. But I do thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

I’ve never met this lady but feel connected to her story. I hope you can also. Testimonies like this would not have been possible without the spirit, strength, generosity and prayer of our supporters and volunteers. Thank you.  

I’ve also met a prolific offender completely changed when he encountered the love of the church, expressing his new-found faith freely and articulately. We had an ex-tenant run a session for us, she is now 5 years clean. At times I feel overwhelmed by all the good I see being done and am forced to stop and praise God for it all.  

So - thanks for all your support, once again. Your prayers, if you can, are always appreciated. 

We’re running an appeal to support our biggest ever year as we scale up to meet the tsunami of need. If you would like to give now, please donate here.