Sunday, December 17, 2017

Spirit of Place: Wrap up Brum

Who but me would illustrate a post about Birmingham Cathedral wrapping people up in warm clothes with a picture of the cathedral featuring nipples and a big smile? As usual it's a picture I saved some time ago without noting the source so I will happily attribute it if a copyright owner comments or emails me.
I'm feeling rather guilty, actually. Birmingham has the highest number of homeless people outside London. In witchy terms the reasons for that are the welcoming spirit of place and generous natives. I have previously quoted William Hutton's quotation from an eighteenth century homeless man:
It is singular, that a predilection for Birmingham, is entertained by every denomination of visitants, from Edward Duke of York, who saw us in 1765, down to the presuming quack, who, griped with necessity, boldly discharges his filth from the stage. A paviour, of the name of Obrien, assured me in 1750, that he only meant to sleep one night in Birmingham, in his way from London to Dublin. But instead of pursuing his journey next morning, as intended, he had continued in the place thirty-five years: and though fortune had never elevated him above the pebbles of the street, yet he had never repented his stay.
But  now the supports for homeless people are bending under the strain. The reason I feel guilty is that in the evenings when charities are dishing out food I tend to find myself thinking that the churches aren't visibly doing anything. I said No when a friend asked me if I wanted to do the St Basil's sleepout this year. The affluent sleeping out at will does not change imbalance. I'm aware that I don't have answers to this problem, am not actively doing anything to change the system. I'm bothered by the idea of being 'alongside' homeless people mentioned below - no you are not alongside them at all, you have a nice cosy house to go back to. Nonetheless I'm rather guilty because the Christians are doing *something* for homeless people.
Posting this also allows me to indulge in being probably the only time a witch blog will quote the Church Times (Source):
ROUGH sleepers and homeless people are being offered a free warm coat in an initiative by Birmingham Cathedral, “Wrap Up Brum”. Throughout Advent, a clothes rail in the Cathedral Square is being filled with coats donated after an appeal on social media.
The chief executive of the cathedral, Anna Pitt, described it as a gesture “to show that we are alongside those people at this time of year when it is really cold”. The cathedral is already involved in several projects to aid the homeless, including working with the charity St Basil’s, which targets youngsters sleeping on the streets, and last month it organised a “sleepout” in Cathedral Square which raised about £150,000.
“The Square is a really central location,” Mrs Pitt said. “We estimate up to 25,000 people walk through it every day, and among them are those who are homeless and rough sleeping; so, for a lot of time, the cathedral grounds are a place of greater engagement than inside the church; so we try to use that space as much as we can.
“The idea of the clothes rail is straightforward: if people want to donate a coat, they can; and, if people want a coat, they can take one. We have had a really huge, positive response. We have had hundreds of coats donated — people have even put gloves and scarves in the pockets.
“When the temperature dropped last week, and it was biting cold, people really engaged with it.” One woman donated 50 coats.
The problem of homelessness in Birmingham was no different to any other city, Mrs Pitt said, “but we have some really excellent charities here doing excellent things. Rough sleeping is a visible issue, and we can’t ignore their needs at this time of year.”
Addendum: I have now done an image search of the picture and find that this was the source of the image and the roofer was called Terence France.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated before publication