Remembrance service held for city homeless

Taking time at Christmas to remember homeless who passed away in Birmingham.

An annual Remembrance Service for the street community has been held in Birmingham in a touching tribute to the homeless men and women who have passed away in recent years.

Prayers and hymns were held at Gas Street Church near Broad Street, Westside, on 18th December with candles lit next to names of 11 of those who were remembered.

Those included were Terry Green, Trevor Finn, David Moody, David William, Jason Talbot, Neil Jones, Clare Boulton, Layla Forbes, Simon Trigger, Paul Wilkes and Nathan Davis, although many homeless people are often only known by their nicknames such as ‘Snowman’.

Luisa Huggins, media and communications manager at Westside Business Improvement District, read from Luke 10:25-37 at the service, a passage that includes the line “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

Interpreting the parable about the good samaritan, with added relevance to Westside, location pastor Tim Bateman said: “I think it’s a lovely thing that we are asked to do this service each year.

“It shows that we really cares for the street community and that you don’t just see them as ‘written off’ people, but see them in all of their humanity and that they should be loved and cherished, too.”

It was with that thought in mind that Westside BID’s general manager Mike Olley asked for comments at the invitation-only service from anyone who knew any of the deceased, so that the service would be much more personal to who they really were.

Noting how Westside BID wardens always want to help anyone seen begging in the area to make good use of external services that were there to support them, Mr Olley added: “Although all of their lives were cut short by addictions there were tales about everyone one of them.”

As the names were read out one by one, those gathered heard something about all of the deceased along the way before their own candle was lit in turn.

Their personality descriptions included “never liked sleeping inside”, “a lovable bloke… so articulate and flamboyant”, “a real character” and one who was “the cleverest person I ever met”.