Hope for Homelessness Songs of Praise


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Hope for Homelessness

Sean Fletcher joins a 4am tea run in Covent Garden to mark Homeless Sunday. Rev Kate Bottley meets a teenager in Preston who creates unique gift bags.


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On the streets of our cities, there's a growing problem

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that's becoming more visible than ever - homelessness.

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Today is Homeless Sunday, a day when churches

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around the country unite to find practical ways of offering help.

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And I'm joining my church on their regular 4:00am tea run

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here in London.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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On the programme, I help bring breakfast to the homeless

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in Covent Garden and hear how much warm food and a friendly face mean.

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This is the highlight of my week.

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The Reverend Kate Bottley meets a remarkable 13-year-old

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who's bringing hope to the homeless in Preston.

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One of the really inspirational things from the Bible

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that I read said that it doesn't matter about your age,

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as long as you're making a difference.

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And we visit the man putting an ingenious roof

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over the heads of those in need in Bristol.

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January is one of the hardest months to be living on the streets.

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According to the charities Shelter, Crisis and Housing Justice,

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the number of rough sleepers has doubled since 2010.

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Increasingly, it's churches who are offering the help that's

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so desperately needed. Not just here in London, but all over the UK.

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And our music comes from right across the country, offering

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words of hope and reassurance that God's love is for all.

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And we start with a hymn that's based on Psalm 23 -

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The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

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It's 4:00am here in London.

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A little bit earlier than I'm used to getting up,

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but my daughter Lily and I have come to join volunteers

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from our church, All Souls, in London,

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on the Saturday morning tea run.

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We've done this before, so we know what we're letting ourselves in for,

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but I'd forgotten how cold it gets, Lily.

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-Come on, Dad, let's do this.

-All right.

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Our first job is to help the team prepare the food

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and hot drinks to take out to people on the streets of Covent Garden.

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The work is part of ASLAN - the All Souls Local Action Network.

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And since 1988, volunteers have been helping every week.

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My 20-year-old daughter and I used to help out here each month, but

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this is the first time we've been able to come for a couple of years.

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Prayer is an important part of the team's preparations.

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We know through the love of God that there is hope,

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whatever circumstances that they've got, that you can give them hope.

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By 4:45am, the van is fully loaded up

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and we head off to Covent Garden in Central London.

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By day, it's full of tourists, but at night,

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this affluent area is increasingly home to rough sleepers.

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And a hot breakfast is eagerly awaited.

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-That looks nice.

-I'm enjoying my...

-You've got raisins in there, have you?

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-Raisins in porridge.

-I saw it being made.

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-I wasn't going to have any, but I put raisins in instead of sugar.

-Yeah.

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-I've got to watch my weight.

-I was going to say, you're healthy!

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THEY LAUGH

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This is the most sensible hand-out that the homeless get.

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Because it's the only place at 5:30am you can get hot food.

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That's a life-saver for these guys.

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I've been coming here for the last 10 years.

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They're as regular as clockwork.

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They're nearly as good as a Swiss watch, actually.

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THEY LAUGH

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There's a good reason why the tea run is so early in the morning.

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We go out at 5:00am,

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when people are most likely to be suffering from hypothermia.

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And we are trying to improve standards of care and support,

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with God's help, but also with training from the local council.

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Some of our guests say that they don't actually open up to anyone

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until they know a volunteer for two years.

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So it's about long-term trust and building relationships

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before you can then really get alongside someone and help them.

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There's always that chat, which people need

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because you don't chat to people when you're on the street.

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Nobody wants to know you.

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But you come here, you have a laugh, you can have a giggle.

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If you've got a problem, you talk about it, problem's gone.

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I thought homeless people would be, like, drunk, drug addicts

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and they would be dirty and smelly,

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but I've found that's not the case.

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They just seem to have fallen on hard times,

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but, you know, are looking after themselves.

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It's not just food that the volunteers provide.

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They've given me advice when I needed it,

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when I was feeling down, depressed and whatever.

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They say, "We'll pray for you", and I know they do.

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And sometimes their prayers have been answered for me,

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whether it happens through this or that.

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But prayer works. I do it myself.

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A lot of people that I speak to who live on the streets

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feel they have no hope.

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And if we read the Bible, we see if we trust in God,

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he doesn't say we're going to have an easy time in our life,

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but if we can believe in him and cast our cares onto him,

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then, you know, by grace, you know, we are saved.

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My daughter Lili and I first volunteered

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on the All Souls Tea Run when she was just 17.

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I just forgot how rewarding and how great it feels

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to give back, I guess.

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You know, the reason we did this the first time,

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was because I wanted to teach you that...we actually live quite

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privileged lives and we should be giving back.

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-Yes.

-I wanted to teach you a lesson, I ended up learning

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just as much as you.

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Our next hymn reminds us that Jesus is the light

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and offers hope in the darkness.

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Which is particularly relevant at this time of year,

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as Friday is the Feast of Candlemas,

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which celebrates the presentation of the young Jesus in the temple.

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Traditionally, it was a time

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when people brought their candles to be blessed in church.

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Now, lots of us feel powerless to help

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when we see people sleeping rough on the streets.

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But one young teenager was determined

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to do something meaningful to help.

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The Reverend Kate Bottley went to meet her.

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Like many cities,

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Preston in Lancashire has a growing number of homeless people.

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It's a problem that really struck 13-year-old Megan Holmes.

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I was shopping with my mum,

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and there were all these homeless people on the streets with nothing,

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-and it really, really pulled on my heart.

-And what happened next?

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So, I went home and I researched and I spoke to a few homeless people

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and a woman that works in a homeless shelter

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and found out what they needed and not just what I thought they needed.

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And came up with a bag containing essential items,

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and that was the Hope Bag.

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Today is a big day for Megan.

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She's launching her latest Hope Bag at her church's charity shop.

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Megan, talk me through what's in a Hope Bag.

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There are a lot of essential items,

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that when I spoke to people on the streets, they said they would need.

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So, a hat and some thermal socks to keep them warm

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because, obviously, it's very cold. And we've got some hand sanitizer.

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They don't want to feel dirty, so it's good to have them in there,

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and tissues and wipes and water.

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This is an information leaflet which guides them to places to go

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and places where they can go and seek help.

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And what's this?

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So, this is a foil blanket.

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The idea is it's a lot more practical than a normal blanket,

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because it's waterproof and windproof.

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How old were you when you first had the idea?

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I was 11 when I came up with this idea, now I'm 13 now.

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That's amazing!

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Did no-one say to you at any point, "Come on, you're only a child.

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"This is a bit too big of a project for you to take on"?

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There were always going to be them people, but I didn't listen.

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One of the really inspirational things from the Bible that I read,

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said that in 1 Timothy 4:12,

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it talks about how it doesn't matter about your age,

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whether you're old or whether you're young, it shouldn't matter

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what you do, as long as you're making a difference

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and you're doing what you set your heart on doing, it doesn't matter.

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Earlier today, Megan joined her regular congregation

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at Crossgate Church in Preston

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to tell them all about her little bags of hope.

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And that's why it's good to give them something that has value

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and worth, and considers their needs,

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not just what we assume they need.

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APPLAUSE The bags cost £4.

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And people who buy them can either leave them to be distributed

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by the charity shop, or hand them out themselves.

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You've got armfuls!

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-How many bags are you buying?

-I'm buying 10 today.

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10? That's amazing!

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I mean, you know, you buy 'em a cup of coffee,

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but how many cups of coffee do they have in a day?

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But this, I think, is just so fantastic.

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It's a real gift, isn't it, really?

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The thing is that they see Jesus in me.

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When I give this, it's not from me, it's from Jesus.

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At the moment, the bags are only available through

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Megan's church in Preston, but she hopes the idea will spread.

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So, this is Anthony, he was one of the first homeless people

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that I spoke to and he helped me with what to put in the bags.

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Yeah, I think it's a brilliant idea.

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You know, the fact that somebody has had the consideration

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and the thought to go about and do it, and yet at such a young age,

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to do it is just inspiring to us homeless people.

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And it's the fact that somebody's there who's got a heart,

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and you know that you're loved and somebody cares for you, really.

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What a remarkable young lady!

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And what a brilliant idea, so simple and yet so transformative.

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Our next hymn by Stuart Townend is a reminder

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that God cares for everyone, and that he's the king of kindness.

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# Come, all you vagabonds, Come all you "don't belongs"

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# Winners and losers, Come, people like me

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# Come' all you travellers Tired from the journey

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# Come wait a while, stay a while Welcome you'll be

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# Come, all you questioners Looking for answers

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# And searching for reasons And sense in it all

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# Come, all you fallen And come all you broken

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# Find strength for your body And food for your soul

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# Come to the feast there is room at the table

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# Come, let us meet in this place

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# With the King of all kindness Who welcomes us in

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# With the wonder of love and the power of grace

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# The wonder of love and the power of grace

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# Come, those who worry 'bout houses and money

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# And all those who don't have a care in the world

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# From every station and orientation

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# The helpless, the hopeless, the young and the old

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# Come to the feast, there is room at the table

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# Come, let us meet in this place

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# With the King of all kindness who welcomes us in

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# With the wonder of love and the power of grace

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# The wonder of love and the power of grace

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# Come, all believers and dreamers and schemers

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# And come all you restless just searching for home

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# Movers and shakers and givers and takers

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# The happy, the sad, the lost and alone

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# Come, self-sufficient, with wearied ambition

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# And come those who feel at the end of the road

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# Fiery debaters and religion haters

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# Accusers, abusers, the hurt and ignored

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# Come to the feast, there is room at the table

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# Come, let us meet in this place

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# With the King of all kindness who welcomes us in

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# With the wonder of love and the power of grace

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# The wonder of love and the power of grace

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# The wonder of love and the power of grace! #

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Talk to any of the people here

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and the one thing they desire is a home, just somewhere to live.

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Sadly, that's a distant dream for many.

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But one man has come up with a very creative solution in Bristol.

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Jasper Thompson is a man with a vision.

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He's been in the Army, he was then a chef,

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and last year, he set up this community project.

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He's developing this derelict site in Bristol into a village

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made from shipping containers, for people without a home.

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That's a container we're going to develop into a micro flat.

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As you can see it, it's rubbish!

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But when we finish, it'll be fantastic.

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This must have been a changing room for a football team.

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Local school maybe or a local sports centre.

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It may be hard to imagine, but when Jasper has finished,

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the containers become small homes.

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Jasper has four on site waiting to be transformed

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and five that he's already converted.

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Each of the containers, all the furniture in them

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and the work to convert them is donated.

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Everything you can see in here, from the windows to the lights,

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the sofa, microwave, fridge, all donations.

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We've got one lad living here at the moment,

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he was currently living in his van.

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So, he's here now and trying to get himself up on his feet.

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And then in a few months' time, he should be sorted.

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If I need a builder, carpenter, a window fitter,

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I just put an appeal out.

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There's always someone out there who'll want to help you, you know?

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There's no point trying to do it on your own,

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I could never do this on my own.

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Thanks for popping down.

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God's set a path for you

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and he expects you to follow that path, you know.

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It's taken me a while and it always takes people a while,

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or it takes something in life to realise

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God has chosen me for this, you know?

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And I feel, honestly feel that I've been chosen to do this,

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by God, you know.

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The idea is that people are given a roof over their heads

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for up to a year, until they get back on their feet.

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A lot of the work is done by volunteers, like Carl,

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who knows what it's like to be homeless.

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I was sleeping rough outside of a church in the West End,

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called the Commonwealth Christian Fellowship.

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And I met a gentleman named William Jones,

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and he's getting on now but I believe he helped save my life.

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And he spoke about how Jesus loves me, how he wants to save me,

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how he wants to be a part of my life.

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Sorry, it makes me feel a little emotional when I think about it,

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because I remember that day, you know, and I'll never forget it.

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And yeah, we did a little prayer, and it sort of went from there.

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We have a slogan with Help Bristol's Homeless,

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and it's, "Together, we can make a difference."

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More and more containers are being donated,

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and Bristol Council has just given him land to create a permanent site.

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There's no end to Jasper's vision.

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You're looking at that container now, and to you, it's just...

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A container!

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But you know, for me, we will turn that into a launderette.

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What we're trying to develop here

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is everyone being neighbourly toward each other.

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And that's exactly what we want on this site,

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some sort of neighbourly spirit and kindness.

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We love you, Rachel, we love you.

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Back in central London, the Tea Run is still busy.

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There's often no quick fix for homelessness.

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Some of the people here today are no longer living on the streets

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but still need support.

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Are you in a hostel at night or do you...?

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At the minute, I'm in temporary accommodation,

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which is like on a weekly basis, so I could be out next week.

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I just don't know where I am at the moment.

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Which is why it's very hard to let go of what's important to you.

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Because next week, I can be on my arse again.

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And if I give this up, I'll have to start over again.

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Even those who are now in permanent accommodation

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come back to meet up with old friends.

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It's a great help, and something to look forward to.

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That's right, meeting people, getting out of the loneliness

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of being on your own, that sort of thing.

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That's why I...

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By befriending people on the Tea Run,

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the volunteers can be the catalyst to finding them a home.

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It makes a big difference now, if I look back.

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Because at that time,

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I didn't even have a place to sometimes have a shower.

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So, one of the Tea Run men,

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he helped me to have a shower in his office.

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So, I realise that people are very nice.

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And you've turned it around, cos you're not on the streets any more?

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Yeah, I... For that, really say thank you, God.

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Because I believe that without God's help,

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it's very hard to get out from anything.

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We just want to bring companionship.

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So, not just about people who are thinking about

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the problems all the time, but you know, the cheerier things,

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like things to be grateful for.

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-We've heard a lot of laughter today.

-Yeah, yeah.

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-It seems a sort of fun, nice atmosphere...

-Yeah.

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-..given the people are in difficult situations.

-Yes.

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As dawn breaks over London, it's time for the team to head back

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for their own breakfast and a chance to reflect on their experiences.

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What I found the most touching was the fact that although

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Dad and I haven't done this for a long time,

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people seem to still remember who we were

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and what I've been doing.

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Friends don't remember that much about me, but they remembered!

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And it was just so lovely,

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and that's what I found really rewarding today.

0:28:120:28:15

Quite a number of people feel there's no hope for them,

0:28:150:28:18

for their future.

0:28:180:28:20

Perhaps they feel no-one loves them,

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but if we can get the message across that Jesus loves them...

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..and with our help, perhaps pointing them in the right way,

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in a practical way, then they'll find some hope in their future.

0:28:290:28:35

Well, every time I've done the Tea Run, I've always felt tired

0:31:140:31:17

but I felt really uplifted.

0:31:170:31:19

And today was no different.

0:31:190:31:21

Right, that's just about it for this week.

0:31:210:31:23

Coming up next week - the Reverend Kate Bottley marks 100 years

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since women were first given the vote

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by learning about pioneering Christian women, past and present.

0:31:280:31:32

And at Hampton Court Palace, Josie d'Arby gets to see

0:31:320:31:35

a rare piece of Elizabethan Christian history.

0:31:350:31:38

We end with a hymn that expresses the eternal hope

0:31:400:31:42

that faith in God brings.

0:31:420:31:44

Until next time, goodbye.

0:31:440:31:46

Sean Fletcher joins his church's 4am tea run in London's Covent Garden to mark Homeless Sunday. The Rev Kate Bottley meets a teenager in Preston who creates unique gift bags for those living on the street, and we meet the man converting old shipping containers into ingenious new homes in Bristol.

Music:

The King of Love My Shepherd Is - The Church of St Cross, Winchester Beauty for Brokenness - Southwark Cathedral Let Us Light a Candle in the Darkness - Romsey Abbey When I Needed a Neighbour - Christ Church, Port Sunlight Hear the Call of the Kingdom - Holy Trinity Platt, Manchester All My Hope on God is Founded - St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen

Plus a performance of Vagabonds from Stuart Townsend and his band.