On Friday 5th October 2018, at least 350 people are expected to brave the elements and join Sleep Out in the Square, Glass Door’s annual mass sleep out in Duke of York Square, Chelsea, London. Every year since the homeless charity’s first Sleep Out in 2013, more people take part, helping raise awareness of homelessness and raising funds for emergency shelters which help give individuals a route out of homelessness. This year Glass Door is hoping to raise £200,000 from the Sleep Out.
Eddie, pictured above 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. Previous guests often return to volunteer at the Sleep Out and in the shelters.
The charity relies on the funds raised from this event to sustain and expand their network of church-based shelters, now operating in four London boroughs (Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth and Richmond). Last year, thanks mainly to the success of the Sleep Out and the funds it raised, Glass Door was able 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. The number of people sleeping rough in London has risen each year since 2010 and is about three times higher than it was a decade ago, according to statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
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. 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 Leathard, Glass Door’s chair of trustees, 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 homeless men and women with a safe and dry place to sleep in the winter, whilst many other institutions provide financial support and volunteer teams.
Background on the Sleep Out
Since the inception in 2013 of the Sleep Out in the Square, almost 1,000 individuals have spent at least one night sleeping outside on the pavements in the Duke of York Square in support of the charity. In total, the event has raised £817,000 since 2013. This year, the charity hopes to raise over £200,000 and break £1 million in total.
Glass Door says the annual event also raises awareness of homelessness. Participants experience a small taste of some of the difficulties that many rough sleepers have to deal with: the freezing cold, the vulnerability, and the difficulty of carrying on your day with little sleep. This gives people a better understanding of the importance of readily available emergency accommodation and support.
Glass Door is looking to recruit fund raisers who will give up their beds on the night of 5th October 2018. Pre-registration is essential, although there is no registration fee. The charity encourages participants to aim to raise around £500 in sponsorship, although there is no fundraising minimum.
Registration is now open at www.glassdoor.org.uk
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