A multi faith group, comprising representatives from the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities, took part in the World’s Big Sleep Out, a global campaign to tackle homelessness.
The multi-faith group joined other campaigners in London’s Trafalgar Square to sleep out on Saturday night 7th December. Participants included:
- The Reverend Anthony Ball – Canon of Westminster, Westminster Abbey
- Fred Ashmore – representative of London Quakers
- Rabbi David Mason – Muswell Hill Synagogue and executive member, Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue
- Rabbi Herschel Gluck – Director, Ohr Avrohom – Light of Abraham
- Zaki Cooper – Co-Chair, Indian Jewish Association
- Mustafa Field – Director, Faiths Forum for London
- Sayed Yousif al Khoei OBE – Director, Al Khoei Foundation
- M Yazdani Raza Misbahi – runs a charity called the London Fatwa Council
- Dr Deesha Chadha – committee member, Hindu Forum of Britain and co-chair of Faiths Forum for London
- Veronica Wetten – London Fo Guang Shan Temple
The sleep out was preceded by a concert featuring Tom Walker, Rag ‘N‘ Bone Man, Travis and a bedtime story from actress Helen Mirren. In London the temperatures dropped to about 10C and there was heavy rain. Sleep Outs took place all over the world, in 52 cities, with 50,000 people taking part.
The Reverend Anthony Ball, Westminster Abbey, and Co-Chair, Central London Branch, Council of Christians and Jews, said:
“After an night in the wet and cold the hundreds who slept out in Trafalgar Square have had an insight into one aspect of the physical distress of homelessness – but we can barely begin to appreciate the psychological and other traumas of sleeping out night after night with no home to return to. As our multi-faith group gathered to express our solidarity, sleeping alongside an international gathering of people of all faiths and none, we recognised that it is only by joining forces that we can deliver on our common commitment to a better future for homeless people the world over.”
Zaki Cooper, inter-faith activist (Co-Chair, Indian Jewish Association), said:
“Sleeping in the cold with an increasingly wet sleeping bag, as the rain came down, gave us a taste of the horror faced by so many. It’s a travesty that over 700 homeless people died in the UK in the last calendar year. There is so much talk of disagreements between faiths but, as representatives from five different faith, we were able to come together with other faith groups to speak with one voice. The importance our faiths place on social justice compels us to act to address homelessness.”
Mustafa Field, Director, Faiths Forum for London, said:
“We came together as representatives of London’s faith communities to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness and to make a united stand to support efforts to end homelessness. This is part of a global campaign but as Londoners there is really no justification for why vulnerable people are left on London’s streets. Through the Faiths Forum for London we will renew our efforts to seize on opportunities to collaborate to tackle homelessness.”
Before the World’s Big Sleep Out, senior faith leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis expressed their support to the World’s Big Sleep Out.