On Wednesday 26th September 2018, West London mosque Al-Manaar hosted a roundtable discussion on ‘Mosques and Homelessness’ to highlight the growing number of rough sleepers in the UK and how faith and cultural institutions could be doing more to help, especially as the winter months start to draw in.
As it stands, homelessness is an issue in every Borough in London, as well as outside of London, with significant homeless populations across the UK. Currently, there are forty projects that tackle homelessness across 35 London boroughs, and more must be done to help facilitate and care for those within our society who are the most vulnerable.
Alongside the Muslim Council of Britain, the roundtable included representatives from Plates4U Al-Suffa, Housing Justice and many more to explore the various ways in which awareness can be raised and how faith institutions could contribute to supporting the homelessness crisis.
Al-Manaar, alongside the West London Mission – a social action charity belonging to the Methodist Church – currently help to facilitate rough sleepers in West London inside the mosque during the cold winter months in an effort to prevent death and serious illness to those who unfortunately have no other means of survival.
In the past year, Al-Manaar has helped support over 100 rough sleepers in London and are spearheading this campaign in an attempt to encourage other mosques and cultural institutions to open their doors to help those who need it the most in our society.
Whilst not every mosque may have the means to function as a night shelter, we do believe that every mosque can play a role in raising awareness from homelessness in the UK. In particular they can work with their local organisations to refer individuals to organisations who can provide direct help, or provide in-kind support to those who may approach the mosque doors during these coming winter months.
Supporting the homeless does not only have to equate to providing a roof over one’s head, but it also has to do with rebuilding relationships with individuals – homelessness is a physical, psychological and emotional displacement that one goes through. Relationships, alongside a place to call home, is lost when one becomes a rough sleeper.
Let us follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and demonstrate our vested interest in the wider society that we live in and make sure that we can care for as many vulnerable individuals in our local communities as we can, in whatever means we can.
Written by Zahraa Ahmed