VIDEO: take two minutes to remember 11 homeless people who passed away

Westside BID has held its annual Remembrance Service for the Street Community 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, where candles lay next to names of 11 of those who were remembered.

Remembrance Service for the Street Community.

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’. You can watch our video marking the service here:

Luisa Huggins, media and communications manager at Westside BID, 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 (main picture) said: “I think it’s a lovely thing that we are asked to do this service each year.

“It shows that (Westside BID) 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.”

The first of two carols either side of the reading, homily and prayers, was Hark! The Herald Angels Sing with lyrics including ‘Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings’. The later carol, Silent Night, included the repeated line ‘Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace’.

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.

Mike Olley of Westside BID reads out description of each of those remembered.

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”.

Some 90 minutes after the service ended, friends and contacts of the BID held a gathering in the family bar above Ice Skate Birmingham in Centenary Square. In keeping with solemnity of the service for the homeless, the invitations for the later gathering were titled ‘Not a Party’.

The church in Westside

Gas Street Church Central is at 41 Gas Street, Birmingham B1 2JT and has Sunday services at 9.30am, 11.30am and 6pm.

Set inside a former gas retort warehouse, the church was opened in February 2016, two years after senior pastors Tim and Rachel Hughes and a small team had relocated from Holy Trinity Brompton in London with the aim of launching a new church in Birmingham city centre.

Today, the ‘Gas Street’ network is growing with GS St Luke’s on Great Colmore Street and GS South at Tudor Grange Academy now set to be joined by GS Longridge at 4 Culmington Road B31 4JN, where the opening service will be held from 10.30am on Sunday 4 February 2024.

ENDS

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