Tackling the Scandal of HomelessnessThursday 10th October 2019
The scandal of homelessness is all too evident here in our diocese. We cannot choose to ignore it and hope that others will take action. We all have a responsibility to challenge the injustice we see on our streets, and today on World Homelessness Day, we are reminded of those who have led the way.
Cornerstone Day Centre in Manchester opened its doors in 1991. It was the determination of Canon O’Connor and Sister Pauline who, with fairly modest resources, established the provision. Five or six years later it had grown at St Augustine’s Parish to two port-a-cabins, a clothing store and a daily footfall reaching beyond one hundred.
Cornerstone began to outgrow its parish base and in 1998 the Diocese of Salford and the Catholic Welfare Societies relocated the day centre to its current premises at 104 Denmark Road, which it shared and worked very closely with the Morning Star residential hostel. Its capacity grew and the service was able to respond to more homeless people and expand its offerings. Funding enabled Cornerstone to progress from ‘a sandwich and a cuppa’, to cooked meals, shower facilities, good-as-new clothing and free phone access; the menu kept growing and the ranks of paid staff and volunteers grew to deliver it.
In 2008 the diocese established Caritas Diocese of Salford, our sister charity. Caritas is defined in the dictionary as ‘Christian love of humankind’ and there isn’t a better definition to begin to understand the scope of work undertaken by the charity. When it was founded it brought together a number of charities that had a long local history, including Cornerstone, with some going back over 100 years.
Their vision was simple, that the lives of all people should be free from poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.
The Caritas vision is a key foundation to the building and sustaining of the Cornerstone project. By securing longer-term funding, and increasing staff numbers to meet growing demands, Cornerstone remains at the forefront of the fight against homelessness in Manchester.
Cornerstone can look back on the different chapters and their challenges, knowing that they welcome those in need and have helped the resetting of innumerable broken lives.
For the staff, volunteers and service users of all our homelessness projects – Cornerstone, Safe Haven, Morning Star, Doorsteps, The Red Door, the Destitution Project and the Refugee Language Teaching Project, the need for their services is growing.
The scandal of homelessness, the indignity of poverty and the need for acceptance and welcome grows apace.
Caritas will continue to fight for those in need, will you join us?