Stonegate Listening

By | May 3, 2018

I am sitting in the beautiful little church of Stonegate in the heart of historic York. I don’t have a camera with me so you will just have to imagine. Ancient architecture darkened with time but enriched with a sense of history. Outside there is a busker sininging ave maria operatic style. It is a creative place where memories unfold into the present day multi dimensional culture.

My meeting at York University ended about thirty minutes ago. We have been talking about how we serve people at the most deprived end of the UK’s social scale, specifically the homeless.

The aim of the conversation was to determine what kind of change steps are needed to ensure those vulnerable to homelessness find a pathway offering hope. Financial security, food, shelter, safe spaces are the basics but what then?

We discussed the concept of “home” and whether this needs to be a much richer concept than simply having a place to go or a family to belong. We imagine home as a place where memories are made and celebrations are held. The walls of a home, like this church in Stonegate, tell the family story which is constantly being retold and enriched. When you find yourself at home your history and culture will change the fabric of the place and new layers of memory laid down.

Going from being homeless to being at home is a profound thing.  We felt that deep listening was a good place to start – without the ability to listen. individually and as a society, we will all be poor. When we listen we are doing so in order to allow others to be heard. We are saying let’s appreciate who you are, we want you to be part of us – and more than that we want to be changed by you.

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