Herald Opinion: Homelessness - isn’t it now time to stop talking and start do-ing

THE REPORT on homelessness in this week’s paper makes for some rather disturbing reading.

People bedding down in shop doorways and a woman sleeping rough in the doorway of a town centre church as temperatures drop below freezing.

It almost sounds like something from the Victorian era.

But no, this is the 21st century in middle class Eastbourne.

There will be those among our readership who think members of the homeless population have brought it on themselves through drink or drug problems, and admittedly there are a small minority who prefer to live on the streets.

But there are also those who have little choice but to sleep rough because of mental health problems or domestic violence issues or even a hold up in the benefits system.

Fortunately for the vulnerable lady in our report who was sleeping in a church doorway, there was a happy ending and now, thanks to a homeless charity, she is now safely homed in a bed and breakfast. Hopefully the benefits she is entitled to will continue to pay for a roof over her head.

That is one person less sleeping on the streets but there are still countless more.

Regardless of the rhymes or reasons behind the lonely figures sleeping rough on our streets, what is actually being done to help these people?

Well, how about this for a solution? There must be at least 25 churches of all denominations across Eastbourne, many of which have nice comfortable church halls attached to them.

Operating on a rota basis, each church could open its doors for a couple of nights during the cold harsh winter months from November to March.

These buildings could provide a basic night shelter for vulnerable homeless people.

This isn’t rocket science and is already something that has been talked about in religious circles.

Indeed it is the churches - Oasis, Salvation Army and Fat Flesh Ministries - which already provide a drop-in day centre, hot meals and support and advice during the days.

But with our winters getting harsher and people sleeping in church doorways, isn’t it now time to stop talking and start do-ing and get some flesh on the bones of a church night shelter scheme?