April 05, 2011

Lenten Programme: Soup and Substance (4)

The theme of the fourth Lenten Reflection in this six part series is “Homelessness – the Outsider”. You are invited to engage with it by:

  • Learning about the ministry of accompanying the homeless by:
  1. Watching the presentation ‘Homeless, the Outsider, a presentation by Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST; 
  2. Reading some information about TRUST presented below
  •  Finding inspiration in the Scripture and Mercy Tradition
  • Taking Action

This Reflection is suitable for both personal and group engagement.

TRUST is a non-political, non-denominational voluntary body set up in 1975 as a private charitable trust to provide medical and related services for people who are homeless. Trust work in premises provided at a nominal rent by the Iveagh Trust. Up to 50 men and women call each morning, the majority of whom are sleeping out (age 18 to 85). TRUST sees new people daily and often have people calling who were housed – settled- and become homeless again.

Washing facilities are available and each month TRUST gives out in excess of 500 outfits of clothing to people who are homeless as part of their total health service. Members of the public, Rotary and church groups donate the clothes and shoes.

TRUST encourages and supports people who come to them to avail of statutory services and to obtain their entitlements; to place a value on themselves; to develop a sense of self esteem and avoid dependence on private charity.

A major part of the work of TRUST is in the field of advocacy or “promoting more awareness of the outsiders amongst us”. TRUST has gained valuable insights and uses its experience in different ways to bring that into the wider community and seek to effect change. They are involved in submissions in response to requests from government agencies and are involved in relevant research on the issues relating to homelessness


In this video, Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST speaks about the work of that organisation with the homeless in Ireland, the human stories of people who are “outsiders” and the importance of raising awareness and advocating on behalf of their rights.

“To create a society where fewer people will seek refugee on the streets we must try to understand what it feels like to be excluded. A non-judgemental approach with real awareness of everyone’s right to privacy is essential if we want the outsider to feel at home”.

Finding Inspiration

Things were distributed to each according to need

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

Acts 4:32-35

Mercy Tradition

When Catherine McAuley embarked on her life of ministry to the poor her first magnanimous gesture was to sell Coolock House. With the money she received from the sale, together with her generous inheritance from William Callaghan, she built the house on Baggot Street in order to be able to “lodge and maintain poor young women who were in danger, until they could suitably for themselves”. They were welcomed to this house “as to their home”. While making Baggot Street their home they were not encouraged to become too dependent, but rather were equipped with skills which enabled them to make their own way in the world, and to move on with a new dignity and pride in themselves.

Taking Action

Engaging the Reflection on Homelessness-the Outsider

What do you feel called to do as a response to your engagement with this reflection:

… at a personal level?

… in your sphere of influence?

… at a financial level?

Personal Action

You might like to respond with an action that is a change:

… of attitude

… of heart

… of mind

… of policy

… of funding priorities

Or you might like to join others in prayer and reflection on this theme.

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