Charlie Scott - 'Invitation'

'Invitation' gives us an insight into a most unusual wedding. One of the first people that Charlie and Cassie invited to their wedding was 'Old Pete'; a homeless man they had built a close relationship with over several years.

This story is all about invitation; the invitation to leave our pre-conceptions behind us, the invitation to risk relationship with the poor and powerless, the invitation to break open the concept of friendship and an invitation to build and see community in the most unlikely of places.

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Invitation: Charlie's Response Tips

As one responds to issues within our world it is important to know there are many ways to respond. Not everyone can nor should respond in radical ways. Most responses should either grow awareness of the situation, stand in solidarity with people, advocate for them or the issue or take some form of action. One of the key responses should always be to form some sort of personal relationship with the person or issue; taking it beyond labels to the people who are daily effected by it.

Short term: Insert 'homelessness and mental illness' into your internet search engine and skim one of the articles that comes up. Talk about it with a friend.

Medium term: Go online and look up St Vincent de Paul's or The Smith Family or The Salvation Army – read about their work and invite staff from your company or family and friends to participate in their annual appeal.

Longer term: Put a quotation from 'Invitation' as the signature on your email or somewhere on your Facebook page.

Short term: Make a small card with your favourite quotation from 'Invitation' and put it in a prominent place in your life; on your office desk, on your dashboard, on the fridge. Use this to motivate you to stay involved in this and other issues.

Medium term: Write a letter to the editor suggesting that the causes of homelessness are complex and that short term and aggressive law and order responses are not a solution.

Longer term: If you know a Member of Parliament or other person in a position to influence policy / priorities within society invite them to come along with you to volunteer at a soup kitchen, coffee van, drop in centre.

Short term: Next time you overhear a conversation at work, among friends or within your family that labels and judges people in need quietly suggest that 'there is probably a story' behind what we see and hear. Share about how Charlie and Cassie saw 'Old Pete' as their friend once they had got to know him beyond the labels.

Medium term: At your place of work or with your friends organise a day when people will all wear blue clothing to work or study OR all wear a blue looped ribbon. Advertise this as your 'wear blue' day to remind us all of the presence of mental illness in all reaches of society and the effect it has on so many. Invite friends to look up Beyond Blue on that day.

Longer term: Invite a person from an organisation that works with the homeless to speak with a group that you are involved with about the causes of homelessness and to bring alone someone they have worked with to share their story.

Short term: Tell a friend about 'Invitation' (Charlie’s story) and 'Off the Bench' (Julia's Story) and over a coffee chat about the stories or if you know people in an organisation that works with the homeless bake a cake or a tin of biscuits or tray of muffins and take them along for that person to take out on a street van.

Medium term: Go on line and look up St Vincent de Paul or The Smith Family or The Salvation Army – read about and invite staff from your company or family and friends to participate in their annual appeal or find any old blankets around the house that are not in use and drop them off at a St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army clothing shop or drop them off at a street van around just before winter.

Longer term: Volunteer at a local drop in centre or clothing store that supports homeless people and others in need or join the volunteer team for an organisation that runs holiday camps for children from disadvantaged situations.