In his address to Catholic charities, MPs and supporters at the annual Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) parliamentary reception on 2 November, Cardinal Vincent focused on homelessness and, in particular, the rise in 'hidden homelessness'.
Describing them as 'under the radar', the hidden homeless are those who may have a job but are sleeping on sofas or spare rooms or in Bed and Breakfasts. Young people in this position may stay with a different friend each night or go to all-night parties to avoid sleeping on the street.
The Cardinal stressed that prevention must be the key priority:
'Family relationship breakdown is a leading contributor to homelessness among single men, and a leading cause of family breakdown is financial difficulty. Then there is the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction. And of course, those without suitable accommodation upon release from prison are the most likely to find themselves on the streets, back in its vicious cycle.'
He also commended the contribution of Catholic charities and parishes:
'All over England and Wales, parishes and charities offer a range of support to people who are homeless: from extensive skills training, counselling, hostels and move-on accommodation, to simply offering a hot meal and clothing to those with nowhere else to turn. Indeed, in the Diocese of Westminster we calculate that in our parishes over 4 million hours of volunteers’ time are given every year.'
The Cardinal also stated that the Church was ready to engage in greater partnership with government, central and local, in order to truly serve the common good, the good that omits nobody.
Finally, he spoke about the link between imprisonment and homelessness referencing an 'urgent crisis' in prisons in England and Wales with escalating levels of violence, suicide, self-harm and assaults on staff.
The full text of the Cardinal's address can be found here.