A Theology of Social Care: Muslims and Sikhs Serving London’s Homeless

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
William BARYLO, EHESS, France
Since the early 2010s, various Muslim and Sikh faith-based initiatives have been emerging in London for serving soup kitchens to the homeless. As opposed to large-scale social organisations, they are local, small and have little means; most of them started as unregistered informal groups and managed by unpaid volunteers. However, they successfully gather dozens of mainly young people each night, who do not necessarily share the same culture, social background or orthodoxy. These open community hubs happen to weave a cloth of strong social bonds through conviviality where are expressed alternative forms of democracy and citizenship. They are accessible and therefore attractive means for action for many who do not believe in state-level politics. Paired with a theology of social care, serving the homeless becomes a devotional practice and means to shift the perceptions about Sikhs and Muslims in Britain at the same time. Presenting three Muslim and Sikh initiatives, this paper explores the internal dynamics, the outcomes and the social impact of these grassroots charities.