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3 December 2018

When I took on the role of Chief Operating Officer at Glass Door in September, I was hugely excited to be joining this dynamic and growing charity.

I started my career in the charity sector -- working for a range of charities including the Lord Mayor's Appeal and the cricket charity Chance to Shine -- but have spent the last five years in the public sector. Most recently, I led teams delivering value for money studies at the National Audit Office as a qualified Chartered Accountant.

Joining Glass Door, I'm keen to take the problem solving, analytical and leadership skills I learnt auditing the government and apply them to the problem of homelessness. To me, the underlying driving ethos remains the same: I'm interested in how we tackle societal problems and improve public life; I'm just doing it from another angle now.

I maintained a connection to the charitable sector throughout, volunteering regularly for a couple of different homeless charities over the past few years. Now I feel as if I am returning home, equipped with a new set of tools. 

We are on the frontline

The latest homelessness figures indicate that 1 in 53 residents in London are homeless. In Kensington and Chelsea, where Glass Door is based, that figure rises to 1 in 29. 

These figures give my role a new urgency.

Glass Door is at the forefront of offering emergency accommodation in one of the worst hotbeds for homelessness in the country. More people than ever before are trying to get a space in our winter night shelters in London churches. In our first week of opening in early November, we have found a 46% increase in demand compared to last year. 

Immediate priorities

My first few months in post have focused on the immediate priorities: in October, we had our biggest fundraiser of the year, our annual Sleep Out, and in November, we opened the night shelters for another busy winter.

The Sleep Out event is an increasingly important driver of growth for the charity. This year, more than 350 participants raised almost £200,000 so far. The combined total raised over the past six years is just over £1 million.

The success of the event provides heart-warming evidence that there is a strong will from the community to support those affected by homelessness.

This Christmas, the Glass Door shelters will operate without break and will welcome some of the most vulnerable members of the community inside to find a bit of good cheer and rest from the elements.

It amazes me that Glass Door partner churches, staff and volunteers are so dedicated to the cause that the shelters continue to run every day of the winter, including Christmas Day and New Years Eve.

It costs £41,860 to keep the night shelters open for the two weeks over Christmas and the New Year, and we are aiming to raise that amount through our Christmas Appeal.

I encourage everyone in the community to get involved with Glass Door. A growing number of individuals are finding paths out of homelessness thanks to the dedication of a growing number of volunteers, fundraisers, event participants and donors. Working together, we can bring more people in from the cold.

No one individual has the whole answer. But by drawing on everyone's expertise, together we can make a positive difference in people's lives.

Lucy Abraham sits on front steps Chelsea Town Hall

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