Friday, January 03, 2014

We are refused a referral to a winter shelter

Neither Declan nor I are fans of winter shelters for the homeless, but since we are now in serious danger at night (see previous blog Declan calls into Bishopsgate Police Station for a crime intel report), we have decided to put aside our misgivings and try to see if we can avail of two spaces in a "rolling shelter" - run in a few areas of London, these winter programmes basically involve a circuit of churches taking it in turn to offer floor space to rough sleepers. This afternoon Declan phoned the Robes Project, which operates in the area of Southwark and Lambeth, to be told that to be admitted to their winter programme we needed a referral from a centre called the Ace of Clubs. We took a bus for 50 minutes and waited in this centre for an hour, only to be told by the manager, Sarah Miles, that the Robes Project had no vacancies. Too bad the Robes Project forgot to mention that!

(Click to enlarge):

I left this manager with a copy of the email below from one of the principal contributors to our Church and State site, Don Collins, President of the Washington DC-based International Services Assistance Fund, but somehow I don't think she will be getting back to us any day soon. This is a quite brilliant "To Whom It May Concern" email Don provided us with yesterday. Everything is his own, including how we might be able to come off the street with a morsel of help from anyone working with the homeless.
(Click to enlarge):

It turns out that the West London Churches Homeless Concern is the only charity which operates a self-referral rolling shelter, but as luck would have it, we found out this afternoon that they are starting up a second circuit in Hammersmith and Fulham on Monday with 35 spaces. Registration for the first night will be on a first come first serve basis so we will be there for registration in plenty of time. In the meantime, we are taking mighty seriously the threat this week by PC 960CP of Bishopsgate Police Station that City of London Corporation street cleaners are going to drench our belongings one of these nights (see previous blog), and so for the next three nights will be keeping ourselves safe and warm by sleeping in 24-hour buses out of Hammersmith bus station.