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Helping Christians Respond To Social Needs

Bristol Homeless Forum


The Responsibility Gap

This report contains some very insightful observations and comments on the 'Gap', basically looking at the question of who looks after those less able to look after themselves?

The reasons given for the increase in the Gap are sound - affluence, time poor, exhausted people, women at work, community redefined, etc.

The assessment of the four pillars of care (government, charities, individuals and private sector), and the need for partnership between them, is helpful.

The report makes a helpful point that there is not enough emphasis on responsibility in our society, to counter the increasing expectations about what our rights are; but it does not adequately describe the important role of churches as the emerging hubs of communities, especially in the 'future directions' section.

From the perspective of BCAN, it identifies some categories of needy that we might consider as our 'audience': elderly, children, disabled (physical and mental), substance misusers, and interestingly the carers who also need support. The homeless were mentioned but not as an explicit group, perhaps because it is (we hope) a transient state.

Two fundamental issues are touched on but not highlighted.

  • As a society we are getting so 'busy', earning money, spending money, traveling, doing things, etc. that we are getting exhausted, not putting quality time in where it counts - marriage, children etc., that the children suffer, contributing to the next generation of damaged people.
  • That the pursuit of 'things and experiences' is in itself flawed and unsatisfying. Once you've had a rush through retail therapy, extreme adrenalin etc., how do you better that? It leaves a longing, an emptiness, a vacuum. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit works on these lost souls, before they self destruct.

Which leads into the role of spiritually grounded (Christian) support groups, community hubs, etc., that BCAN is aiming to help.

The report did outline the professionalisation taking place in charities - towards better management of volunteers, fundraising, litigation avoidance etc. In the light of this, it seems likely that the 'third sector' will take on a more active role of service delivery than has previously been the case.


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