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Introducing Glass Door

21 May 2015

From today, West London Churches Homeless Concern (WLCHC) will be adopting a new name that is more accessible to all, including the homeless men and women who rely on its services. The charity will now be known as Glass Door Homeless Charity – or “Glass Door” for short.

Steven Platts, Chief Operating Officer of the charity, says:

Over the years, we have provided shelter and support to thousands of people in West London who are in great need. Our name may be changing, but our work, and our commitment to providing shelter and helping people move beyond homelessness, remains the same.

The trustees have recognised for some time that the name adopted nearly twenty years ago, while serving the Charity well, was a tongue twister for most people, and the acronym “WLCHC” was meaningless on its own and just as hard to remember.

The charity’s new identity is the product of a wide-ranging consultation, carried out over the last year and a half, involving supporters, staff, volunteers and homeless guests. The work was made possible by the generous pro-bono support of branding agency venturethree and consultants Donne and Co.

In discussing possible new, distinct, meaningful names for the charity, “Glass Door” was suggested amongst hundreds of other possible names.

It’s the nickname that many of us already use,” explains Tomas, a 28-year old guest of the winter night shelters. The name refers to the glass doors within the arched church entrance that mark the Charity’s headquarters at the Chelsea Methodist Church on the King’s Road. Tomas says: 

I go through the glass door, and I find good people who try to help me. I take a shower and change into clean clothes. I find lunch, which is very important. But the most important thing is, I know when I come here, I can get help.

Tomas lost everything because of a heroin addiction. He’s now off drugs, and thanks to the stability he was able to find in the night shelters followed by help from caseworkers in the day centre, he’s now in a job and saving up for the deposit on a rental flat.

The name “Glass Door” is a physical reference to the Charity’s headquarters, but the name also works metaphorically, says Steven. “’Glass’ signifies the transparent way in which we aim to conduct our business,” he says. And he points out that a glass door can be opened and suggests a welcome and a transition to a better future.

Chair of Trustees Rev Dr Brian Leathard, rector of St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, points out that the Charity is the only homeless shelter in London that remains open to all, regardless of nationality or local connection. Brian says:

By choosing a name that comes from the guests themselves, we continue to put our guests at the heart of everything we do.

By adding an icon that is a physical reminder of a church door, the charity also sought to emphasise the unique relationship it enjoys with churches of different denominations in West London. Churches provide the free use of their halls and often organise volunteer teams to help run the night shelters. The icon and strapline (“Homeless support in West London Churches”) reflect this much-valued partnership.

“The charity relies on the support of the church community and the hundreds of volunteers who help make our work possible. We greatly value their commitment and dedication,” says Brian.

The charity launched its new name and logo at its end-of-year volunteer party last night. Glass Door used the opportunity to celebrate recent achievements and welcome volunteers and supporters to renew their commitment to working collaboratively to help build a world where no one has to sleep on the streets of London.

“The next chapter in the story of the charity’s work with homeless people will be about building on our strengths and focusing on our unique position within the homeless charity sector,” Steven says. “Our goal will be to help more people get off the streets and help them move towards more stable futures.”

Since getting into work is the only long-term way off the streets for many guests, Glass Door is launching training classes to help guests develop work-appropriate skills. Thanks to a recent grant, the computer room has been equipped, and the first classes will be starting in the coming year.

Marie Green, a trustee involved with the night shelter and volunteer coordination for Glass Door, said:

It’s incredible what we can achieve when we work together. Every night during the winter, teams of volunteers welcome up to a hundred men and women in a church hall where they find a safe warm haven with hot food and a kind word. Working in collaboration allows us to make a real change in our local communities.