Launch of new homelessness films
Back at the end of November, you will recall we launched the winter night shelter fundraising appeal, Tackling Homelessness Together. We have so far raised nearly £30,000 which is the amount we have already equally distributed to our partner charities. As the need in London is so acute this year, with more people sleeping rough in the coldest temperatures that we have seen for years, we hope to be able to give more than the original sum of £2,000 to each of them.
For the start of Lent, we have launched two new short films to refocus our efforts and thoughts for this time of Christian observance. As Lent is especially early in 2018, the freezing and often wet weather, which accompanies the season, allows us to focus on how the homeless feel while they are often ignored by Londoners who pass them every day.
Nicky Nicolls, who is now 73 and spent 36 years homeless, describes how she ended up being homeless, after suffering abuse and ending up with whisky as her only friend. Describing her efforts to remain clean, she was sent to prison for stealing toothpaste and soap. Nicky states that most rough sleepers simply want to feel human with clean clothes and clean teeth and that many are hurting deep inside. One of the first ways to help them is through a smile, hot food and a clean pair of socks – the simple things that winter night shelters are able to give, as well as a comforting cup of tea, hot food, a good night of sleep and some self-respect.
In our second film, John Harper, 53, who worked as a freelance designer, describes how after a failed business, he spent time sofa-surfing. His story chronicles that he ended up sleeping rough at Kings Cross station, but with the help of a shelter, staffed by volunteers, he was able to get himself back into a stable situation.
These two short films can be shown in church services and with Lent groups, so we can remember the members of our society who are hidden in London, and we can therefore recognise the woman sleeping in the shop doorway, or the man who is able to hold down a job but sleeps on a train station bench.