MAYBE HOME IS nothing more than two arms holding you tight when you’re at your lowest.
It’s a time of the year when people really feel the blues – what with the festive shopping, cooking and entertaining leaving many at breaking point. Then there’s the downcast and downtrodden who have lost contact with their nearest and dearest. Some people only bleat about how these people have bought it upon themselves because of drug addiction or alcoholism. This is ignorance of the highest order and frankly those who entertain such opinions need to get a reality check – they are seriously out of touch.
Most people who are homeless are victims of circumstances and the upward trend in the figures and statistics will unfortunately continue to rise because of a lack of support. Often with the lack of a co-ordinated government response to the situation it has been left to the general public to step in. Quite simply they are not doing enough on all fronts, and it’s easier to put up barricades and spikes to stem the flow of human traffic.
Our Eve of Christmas Eve soup kitchen experience was unique in my experience. We had a large crack unit and boy did we need the numbers on the night. Nazia had cooked the most delicious chicken stew, which was served with bread, water, a variety of snacks and cake. Rubi and Alex bought along a car load of goodies and winter wear thanks to a collection by the fantastic pupils at St Luke’s, Canning Town.
Moklis, Korim, Iqra, Humaira, Ayesha, Amina, Joe, Abdullah and Yahya did everything – loading/unloading the stock, serving, mingling, carrying, cleaning, distributing, etc. There’s a lot of work involved in running a soup kitchen, and everyone needs to be flexible and alternate roles as required.
Last week I had taken Sabur’s black taxi and met up with Peri, Luisa, Yasmin, William, Robin, Mateus and the team at Pearson One90 Holborn, who once again provided a shedload of gift-wrapped kindness boxes which proved extremely popular. The look of joy on the face of grateful recipients is hard to describe. I’m just sorry we can’t do this more often.
In all it was an unbelievably busy night – food service with a smile, hats, coats, scarves and kindness gifts. The outpouring of genuine emotions from homeless friends was something I haven’t witnessed on this level before.
In a new approach, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has helped bring together 18 charities that have decades of experience in helping people sleeping rough in the capital, to form a coalition – the London Homeless Charities Group. It follows a commitment by the Mayor to spend £9 million every year on rough sleeping services in London in addition to the £50 million fund announced at the end of last year to invest in accommodation so that people can move on from hostels and refuges.
•Advice and Homelessness Officer:
PO Box 270, Guildhall, London, EC2P 2EJ
Monday 9.30am – 4pm
Tuesday 2pm – 5pm
Wednesday 9.30am – 4pm
Thursday 9.30am – 4pm
Friday 9.30am – 4pm
Out of hours emergency contact: 020-8552 9587.
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