Sleep Out for the Shelter 2016

West London Day Centre hosted our second Sleep Out for the Shelter on Friday, 21st October at St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, raising over £27,000 to help night shelter guests move on into more settled housing, and onto a new and better chapter in their lives.

 

Staff, volunteers and fundraisers slept outside in the garden of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, raising money for the Winter Night Shelter. Westminster Churches & Synagogue Night Shelter is coordinated by West London Day Centre. Every night of the week between October - May, a church or synagogue in Westminster opens its doors to provide vital respite for homeless guests, who would otherwise find themselves out on the streets in the cold weather.

 

The fundraisers that took part were able to experience safely a few of the challenges that street homeless people are faced with every night. Chloe Harrison, fundraiser at the Day Centre and organiser of the Sleep Out, said:

 

It really was a joy to organise an event for such a great group of people, who all gave up their night to contribute to something much bigger than themselves. I found it really tough. I didn’t sleep at all – I spent an hour wriggling about on a bench (I’ve been told it offered some light entertainment for those that also couldn’t sleep), and then gave up trying to get some shut eye. I was cold to my core; my lips still now are chapped from the harsh elements. Constant distractions, relentless noise and activity in Piccadilly meant finding a bit of peace seemed impossible.

 

How grateful I was to get home to a nice warm shower and a squishy soft bed! How luxurious these simple home comforts appeared to me after only spending one night out. The stark reality of the conditions that homeless people face really hit home. Yet the knowledge that by sacrificing one night to raise money for the Winter Night Shelter guests will make a huge difference was the greatest comfort of all. As Michael, a night shelter guest who joined us at the Sleep Out, said: “It’s wonderful to be able to go somewhere so warm and welcoming each night… [the winter night shelter has] without a shadow of a doubt have saved me from a whole heap of misery.”

 

Last year the Night Shelter supported 63 homeless guests over the winter months, assisted 39 of these guests into longer term housing, and 11 to begin paid employment.

 

Michael, a Night Shelter guest, joined the volunteers at the Sleep Out. Recounting the impact that the Night Shelter has had on him, he said:

 

“I once lived in a nice place, but many of my problems have been caused by an addiction to gambling. I began ignoring the bills when they were small and manageable. But as every person knows, small bills become big bills.  Also, my benefits were stopped after I walked out of a government computer course as I have always had a real aversion to technology. My way of dealing with it was to bury my head in the sand and I chose to ignore all the letters that came through the door. Then one day, the inevitable happened when I came home and my place had all the locks changed. Looking back, I must have had a nervous breakdown.

I began sleeping rough out on the streets. This is where the West London Day Centre came to my rescue and helped me with my benefit. They also referred me to a GP and was given medication to help with my depression.  Karen at the Day Centre helped me deal with things – even though I would still encounter difficulties, I now had someone to help me.

I am now residing in 7 different churches who open up to give us a lovely meal and a bed. It’s wonderful to be able to go somewhere so warm and welcoming each night. The Day Centre and shelter has been instrumental in helping me with any difficulties that I have encountered.  Any funding they receive is truly deserved – they provide homeless people with food, clothes, showers, benefit advice, medical help and opticians. They without a shadow of a doubt have saved me from a whole heap of misery.”

 

All money raised from the Sleep Out will go to supporting the Westminster Churches and Synagogue Night Shelter, providing warm shelter for street homeless people who would otherwise have to endure the harshness of rough sleeping.

 

To get involved in our fundraising work, email us at support.us@wlm.org.uk

Posted by: Admin on Tuesday 08 Nov 2016

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