Background To ReachOut
ReachOut owes much of it’s origins to Streetchurch, the ecumenical church for the homeless and socially marginalised folk of Northampton. Growing out of the services Streetchurch provides, including programmes of practical and spiritual activities, many of the volunteers felt the need to offer an outreach type service where we went and met the homeless folk where they were – on the streets. This began in an informal way with 2 or 3 people finding a night when they were free and having made up some sandwiches and soup, hit the streets. It was recognised very quickly, that if we were to be of any service to the folk we came into contact with, that we need to get more organised and professional in our approach.
Realising that we could not do this for long without getting burned out very quickly, the handful of volunteers set out to recruit and more importantly pray for direction and for passionate volunteers. God has been faithful and we now have over 40 volunteers, taking it in turns to be part of a 4 person team that goes out every Friday. Additionally, there are other church teams who work alongside and support ReachOut who cover other evenings throughout the week.
We know we cannot solve everyone’s problems when we are out on Friday night – it is neither the ideal environment nor indeed is this our role – but we signpost them to other organisations who can help and/or arrange to meet up with them during the week in a more suitable location to chat about their circumstances.
However, what we can do is ensure that an individual is able to get a hot drink and food inside them, that they can get warmed up by the clothing and sleeping bags that we distribute and that we can leave them with items to sustain them until the agencies are able to offer more long term support.
Many people from many walks of life agree with this sentiment and have volunteered their services as volunteers, supporters and intercessory prayers. Indeed, although the bulk of our members are from one of around 12 churches currently supporting us in the town, we have Muslims as well as agnostics among our team. All are welcome so long as they respect the Christian ethos that we operate under.