East Lothian churches act on homelessness

E_Lothian_01_1017_1East Lothian churches have supported a call to help homeless people in the county during a meeting in Musselburgh this week.

Around 40 people from all parts of the region agreed a plan to set up a starter pack project to provide basic household essentials to people as they settle in the community following a period of homelessness.

The meeting was organised by Scottish Churches Housing Action (SCHA), and brought representatives from churches together with local homelessness projects and staff of East Lothian Council.

They heard a proposal from Recycling First, based in Macmerry, and Fresh Start in Edinburgh to work in partnership with the churches’ support. Ideas for further ways in which churches can help, such as befriending those who are isolated, were also put forward.

Miriam McHardy, a Musselburgh resident who sits on the SCHA board and who chaired the meeting, said: “Local congregations were asked to consider each appointing a volunteer to co‑ordinate the collection of good-quality donated goods. I’m delighted that the response was very positive.”

The meeting followed work carried out by SCHA on behalf of East Lothian Council to assess the potential for churches to contribute to local action to tackle the problems of homelessness.

This was carried out by SCHA chief executive Alastair Cameron, who added: “We know that local churches already do much to tackle homelessness and poverty – particularly by supporting foodbanks. But there was also a sense that more could be done. Starter packs are a very practical response to the needs of people experiencing homelessness, the vast majority of whom are from East Lothian.”

Church representatives agreed to take the idea back to their congregations and secure support for the work.

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