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8 November 2016

Simon has had a rough year. His landlord neglected fixing his rental flat in Brixton even though Simon says he kept up with his rent. When the pipes burst one day last January, exposed electrical lines resulted in a blast that blew the doors off the property. “I just turned in my keys and walked away,” Simon says. 


The local council told him he wasn’t a high enough priority and couldn’t help, even though Simon is bi-polar and needs to take medication regularly. 


With nowhere else to go, 45-year old Simon now sleeps wherever he can: on buses, in doorways and even in hospital A&E waiting rooms. “They don’t mind as long as you arrive after midnight,” he says. 


But the nomadic life is taking its toll. “I’m wiped out,” Simon says. 


Simon came to Ace of Clubs day centre in Clapham yesterday to sign up for the new Glass Door night shelter circuit in Wandsworth. Seven new churches in the borough have joined the Glass Door network, extending the capacity and reach of the Glass Door night shelters south of the Thames this winter.


Ace of Clubs is providing Glass Door caseworker Boguslaw with an office while he works with guests of the new Wandsworth shelters and clients of the Clapham centre.


Ace of Clubs centre manager Sarah Miles says she grabbed the opportunity to work with Glass Door. “The biggest need our clients have is for housing.” Up to 100 individuals regularly come to the centre for lunch and to do laundry or shower, but few options exist to move clients on into shelter or housing. “It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of the job,” Sarah says.  


Simon and 65 others joined one of three Glass Door shelters last night, the first night of the Glass Door winter shelter season. The youngest guest was 23 and the oldest 68 years old. Eleven were women.  These guests will be able to find shelter for up to three months this winter, giving them a chance to rest and find some stability. 


Sarah knows sorting out Simon’s housing situation will take a bit of time, and she’s glad he can at least find somewhere safe and warm to sleep in the meantime. Sarah says:

At least now we can move people in the right direction. It’s great to have that opportunity.