Sleep out and raise awareness and funds for shelters in London

11 SEP 2018

On Friday 5th October 2018, Glass Door Homeless Charity will be hosting their sixth annual Sleep Out in the Square, a mass sleep out event held at Duke of York Square in Chelsea. Every year since 2013, hundreds of individuals take part, ultimately helping more individuals find emergency shelter and a route out of homelessness.

This year Glass Door is looking to recruit at least 400 individuals willing to brave the elements and spend a night sleeping on the pavement to raise awareness of homelessness and funds for emergency shelters.

Eddie, pictured below, was a guest of the charity's shelters seven years ago and credits Glass Door with turning his life around. "Workers and volunteers of the charity showed me kindness, a kindness I had never seen before. I started to believe that a different kind of future was possible," says Eddie. After 26 years of sleeping rough, he is now off the street and works for Glass Door as an overnight project worker. Eddie and other former guests often return to volunteer at the Sleep Out.

The charity relies on the funds raised from the event to sustain and grow their network of church-based shelters, now operating in four London boroughs (Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth and Richmond).

Last year, thanks in large part to the success of the Sleep Out, Glass Door was able to expand their shelter network into Richmond following a successful pilot supported by Allchurches Trust. This pilot saw seven churches in the area each host the shelter for one night a week, helped by 269 volunteers drawn from the congregations and local community.

This coming winter, Glass Door expects to shelter an average of 120 individuals a night, up from 35 just six years ago.

The need for emergency shelter shows no sign of slowing down, as a chronic lack of affordable homes and welfare cuts continue to take their toll. Figures published by the government at the beginning of 2018 showed that rough sleeping in England has increased for the seventh consecutive year, with an estimated 4,751 people sleeping rough in 2017, a 15% increase from the previous year. However, we know these figures grossly under represent the true number of individuals who sleep rough, as many remain hidden. We do know that London has the largest concentration of rough sleepers in the country.

More individuals look to access Glass Door's shelters and support services every year. The funds and support raised through the Sleep Out have helped the charity grow to meet these demands.

"The rise in homelessness is a scandal, and we will continue to do all we can to get people off the streets and into shelters. But we can't do it alone," says Glass Door's chair of trustees Rev Brian Leathard.

"Taking part in events like the Sleep Out, showing solidarity and raising funds, is a great way to do something tangible to make our communities stronger and help those in need," says Rev Brian, who is also the rector of St Luke's and Christ Church, Chelsea.

Twenty-nine churches of different denominations worked with Glass Door last year to provide men and women with a safe and dry place to sleep in winter, whilst many other institutions provide financial support and volunteer teams.

James Laing, Director of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, said: “The Sleep Out event is vital to raising the funds needed for Glass Door to continue to step up its support for people who need to shelter and help to find a route out of homelessness.

“It was a privilege for Allchurches to fund the night shelter pilot in Richmond and we’re delighted that support is now available on a permanent basis involving such a wide variety of churches serving their communities. This is one of a range of projects we’ve funded throughout the UK and Ireland that help those most in need. We hope this is the biggest ever Sleep Out, enabling Glass Door to hit its fundraising target and support even more vulnerable people.”

Shelters in London 1 [image]

Eddie pictured above (left), with participants at the event in 2017.

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