Faith in Action, Merton’s homelessness charity, held its annual Open Evening on 18 March.

The evening was attended by more than 70 people, including the MP for Mitcham and Morden, Dame Siobhain McDonagh, and local councillors and officers, as well as supporters and volunteers.

Dame Siobhain highlighted the growing problem of homelessness in and around London. FIA’s Chair, Bernie McAlister, empasised the need for volunteers and donations as the charity seeks to cater for the growing demand for its services.

Grace, FIA’s new manager, spoke about the journey that led to her taking on this role, and her experiences which have created such an empathy with our service users. Robin Goodchild, a Trustee of FIA, reflected on this year’s Merton Winter Night Shelter (WNS), which offered 12 beds per night for 14 weeks running from early December to mid-March. The WNS is operated by volunteers on a rotational basis between various faith group halls.

Nicky and Gabriel, two of FIA’s volunteers, spoke very movingly about their experience working with homeless people, and then we heard about the experiences of two former homeless people, Ian and Martin, the latter of whom is set to join FIA as a Trustee – bringing lived experience to its Board.

One of the attendees remarked “In my opinion it hit the perfect balance between vision, values and real-life testimonies.”