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Daniel took part in every Sleep Out organised by Glass Door. He tells us about the very first one he attended in 2013 and reflects on his experience. 

I was sunning myself on a deck chair on wonderful summer’s day in a most beautiful part of Scotland with westward views out across a sea-loch, and beyond which the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

Hardly a care in the world – this was our family summer holiday house which we rented for some 22 years in total. There was good local produce, quiet, few people, no pollution, and of course some nice drams of whisky.  London was very far away, and this was the place to forget everything and relax from the noisy and busy metropolis. 

Suddenly, an email came through from Steve Platts at the West London Churches Homeless Charity (now Glass Door).  He was asking for volunteers to Sleep Out that October when it might be cold and wet. This was quite a shocking jolt back to reality. The email explained the urgent need to raise this money, so without any delay I immediately volunteered, without realising that I was the first person to do so. I had already been helping at a homeless shelter at nearby Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Brook Green so I was already fully aware of the excellent work this charity carries out.

When I returned to London, I engaged with the Parish Priest of our Parish Church (Our Lady of Victories, Kensington), Mgr Jim Curry, who was fully supportive of our proposal to raise a large sleepout team.  Within a couple of weeks our campaign was well under way, and we had some 20 volunteers of all ages, ready and eager to sleep out for this worthy cause.

Parishioners wanted to give back something to those less privileged than themselves and to help society.  A bad night’s sleep was not a great deprivation, but it was a challenge for many. 

The lead-up time to the Sleep Out was exhilarating in that first year, with so many parishioners wanting to help in different ways.  We raised one of the largest sums for that first sleep-out through sponsorships from individuals.  Parishioners came out to visit us at the sleepout with food and drink, or just to give us some words of encouragement.

The night was cold and damp – the paving stones were very hard, even with cardboard boxes acting as some insulation and cushioning. The traffic noise hardly stopped all night in this busy part of central London.

We were pretty weary the next morning but there was a great camaraderie amongst the sleepers, and a feeling that we had experienced just a little of what so many homeless everywhere in the world have to suffer every single day. 

A most worthy cause, and an experience which we will never forget. Having slept out for 9 years, I have thrown in the towel, but there are many younger ardent supporters who will carry the baton for years to come.

Daniel Kaminski