“I felt humiliated, an outsider, we became the ones people avoided” says the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church as he speaks about his experience of homelessness.
The Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church will take part in the ‘Sleep in the Park’ event in Princes Street Gardens this Saturday to highlight the issue of Homelessness and to raise funds and awareness to bring Homelessness in Scotland to an end. Bishop Mark will be joined in the ‘Sleep in the Park’ with his wife and two daughters and his son’s partner.
In preparing to take part in the event, Bishop Mark reflects on his own experience of being homeless for a couple of years, saying “I will always remember the day that my wife Jane and I were forced to leave our first home together, a home we had slowly improved as we enjoyed the first year of married life. We were forced to leave because the landlord had sold the property to a developer and the house was to be demolished. This also brought to an end my local employment.
“The processes of applying to housing lists, housing associations and the Council were all unknown to us and life just seemed very scary and uncertain. We decided to take the opportunity to ’get on our bikes‘ and to find accommodation and work and so we placed the little furniture and possessions we had into a relative’s cellar and set off.
“We slept on friends’ floors, we slept in railway stations and on buses – we were always on edge wondering where we would be next. People were good to us but with each new month it became harder to look and feel smart and presentable for interview, harder to fit in. The final straw for me was when the verger at the church we headed for on the Sunday morning asked us to sit in the porch and said “the Vicar will bring you a sandwich when the service ends” I felt humiliated, an outsider, we became the ones people avoided.
“This period of our lives lasted just under two years and, as I have said, many people – relatives, friends – were wonderful; and I am aware that my pride probably stopped us simply sloping off to my parents. Yet on reflection it was so easy to slip into a place where you began to disappear, where you were no longer noticed.
“So when people ask me why I am ‘Sleeping in the Park’ this weekend, it is because I know what it is like to have no real home, no resources to fall back on and to live with the fear and vulnerability that this brings. I urge you to please support your local homelessness charities, and try to do something to help. I know how important this can be to someone.”
The Scottish Episcopal Church supports Homeless Sunday (28 January 2018) – an annual awareness raising day and works closely with Scottish Churches Housing Action.
Full details of the ‘Sleep in the Park’ event can be read here: https://www.sleepinthepark.co.uk/