Gavin Kitto On Friday 4th October 2019, 4 Firefighters from Chelsea Blue Watch took part in the annual Glassdoor Sleep-out in Duke of York Square, Chelsea, to raise funds and awareness for the homeless community.

Even though the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a predominately affluent area, we see a large number of people sleeping rough throughout our fire station ground.

The Blue Watch identified the homeless as a group within our community with whom we would like to support and improve links. We got in touch with Glassdoor, a charity operating out of the Methodist Church on the Kings Road, with a view to see how we could support each other. One of the things we agreed upon was to take part in the organised Sleep-out.

Firefighters Simon Tutton, Gareth Dawes, Adam Whitfield and Crew Manager Gavin Kitto gathered outdoor gear to brave the elements for a 21.30 registration. We found ourselves a corner with some shelter from the road noise and street lights and placed down our bedding.

There was a great atmosphere amongst participants, everyone present was friendly and eager to share their stories and motivation. Local businesses kindly provided drinks and snacks to volunteers throughout the event. We were fortunate that temperatures on the night were mild with no downpours. We managed to get a few hours sleep before 5am when everyone was woken to vacate the square and make space for the weekly Saturday Market.

Luckily the combination of good weather and great effort by the organisers meant our evening was not to arduous. Sadly the reality of sleeping rough faced by London’s homeless community is quite different, especially throughout the cold, wet winter months.

Glassdoor have fantastic support systems in place, running shelters throughout winter and helping people move from the streets and back into their own accommodation. Incredible work and we feel privileged to have been able to support it!
Gavin Kitto