First Homeless walk for the season with London Spiritual Events & SocialsLast week we had our first homeless outreach walk for the season which was amazing. A small group of members from our group London Spiritual Events & Socials met and we hit the streets around The Strand and headed up towards Covent Garden. We were laden with goods and as it turned out the majority of our good work was actually in speaking to and connecting with a small number of our street friends.
|Carly, Moira, Odette, Debbie, Carmen and Marta on camera sitting speaking to one of the wonderful characters we chatted to on the night. .|
We then met a silver haired lady in a doorway of one of the very smart shops. We approached to say Hi and offer her a hot drink. This was Angela, an absolutely lovely, friendly and well spoken lady who had hit hard times. She described her situation as a catch 22 one, a phrase that was mentioned by several people that night ! Angela was hoping to be housed but for now she was having to survive on the streets with her worldly belongings at her side in a wheeled shopping bag. I noticed Angela was reading an art magazine so we got chatting about the subject and it turns out that Angela is an artist. I am a a fan of painting myself so the conversation flowed as we shared tips and information about the local art shops.
We had a new member join us on the night. The lovely Carmen and she has so beautifully described her experience of the night. I have asked Carmen if I can share her beautiful words. This lady is a wordsmith, a true magician of words.
|Group shot of us on the night.|
Carmen's beautiful description of the night
What a fascinating night. A small group of us met warm-hearted Odette at Embankment Place to pool and organise rucksacks stuffed with winter supplies (new hats, scarves, socks, etc), toiletries and two huge tea and coffee flasks for the homeless.
Tramping the streets with our wares, we looked like homeless people ourselves!
From the young man newly evicted from his room onto the streets who was grateful for the toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant,
to Angela, the presentably attired and well-spoken silver-haired artist camped in a shop doorway who spoke eloquently about her artwork and the difficulty of safely stowing away her trolley of possessions,
to 'Helen' (one of her many names!) the autograph chaser thirsty for a cuppa and a Kit-Kat who told us about the many Leicester Square red carpet events she had 'attended',
to Sean the self-confessed alcoholic who was wary that we might be 'religious' and who choked up when he reminisced about the dead grandparents who had doted on him,
to the pale and painfully thin young man stretched out in a soiled sleeping bag in Covent Garden and his softly-spoken hooded companion who simmered with anger and snatched and grabbed coffee and chocolates and rucksacks,
to the old fashioned grime-ingrained 'tramp' who looked bemused as he refused all we had to offer including a hot drink but accepted the leopard print furry hat with the ear flaps,
to the homeless crowd that appeared from out of nowhere and flocked us on the Charing Cross Road - cleanly dressed Eastern Europeans mingling with soiled and sour-smelling vagrants - eager to find out what was on offer and pulling coffee shop sachets of sugar from their pockets when we told them we'd run out,
to the humble Italian who couldn't believe her eyes nor her luck when Debbie opened up her pink suitcase and flourished underwear, tops, scarves, shampoo and even a razor for the lady's legs -
all life was on the streets tonight, as it is every night.
As I made my way home on the crowded underground I was hyper-aware of the sea of shiny hair, clean complexions and immaculate outfits. As I arrive home I can't help but notice the wealth of comforts that I'm surrounded by. A key that fits in my own lock. Four walls. Sitting down on a chair. Clean water from a tap. Hot food. The love of a family. My warm duvet upstairs. All of this. It's hard to comprehend the pain and suffering and misery that goes on while we are dreaming in our beds
Thank you for permission to post your beautiful words Carmen.
Carmen's website www.space-for-grace.webs.com
The way forward
We are stepping up the campaign as the colder and longer nights draw closer.
Our next homeless walk is on 16th October and we are still very gratefully accepting donations via our gofundme page. All donations received go towards purchasing items such as rucksacks, socks, toiletries and so the list goes on.
Please note places on our walks get filled very quickly as we choose to work together in small groups. If you wish to get involved you can find us on our Meetup Group where all new walks are listed http://www.meetup.com/London-Spiritual-Socials/ If you feel that you have something to offer in helping us to help people on the streets then please contact me. I am always interested in ways that we can make a difference.
I have some ideas that I wish to work on to give our street friends a break from the streets, a new project that I hope can come to fruition soon. I will be asking our street friends what they think of the idea and if it will be something they would like. More information coming soon !!!
To donate please visit our gofundme page http://www.gofundme.com/sleepingbags. Please note we are not a charity. What we have is people power and people with big beautiful hearts who wish to help so that is what we do. No admin fees, just action. This is LOVE in ACTION. All moneys received go directly to help homeless people. We fund our own expenses.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far by way of monetary donations, donations of goods needed and donations of your precious time.
Love, Peace and Blessings from all of us to all of you XXX