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16 September 2019

On Thursday 12 September, Soho Radio's Bibi Lynch welcomed guests Melissa Kerschen and Eddie McCormick to talk about homelessness and the Glass Door Sleep Out.

Eddie, an overnight project worker, was a guest in the shelters run by Glass Door (then WLCHC) several years ago. He talked about some of his lowest points: from being attacked to taking drugs to fill a void. Paraphrasing a book he is currently reading about William Wilberforce, Eddie said:

'The biggest evil is walking past injustice.'

Ninety odd percent of people on the street are feeling rejection, Eddie added. It's the kindness and acknowledgement from volunteers at Glass Door that helped him turn his life around, he said.

I was in hospital for a month with severe hypothermia. People used to come and pray at my bed -- people I knew from the night shelters, volunteers.

The charity's volunteers and staff acted like a beacon, Eddie said, giving him the strength to go into rehab, which eventually led him to take responsibility for his decisions and build a different future.

Bibi opened up in turn about her own experience of homelessness: 

Everyone should be seen as equal, and everyone when they’re in the situation where they’re sleeping on the street should be listened to. They’re valid and their stories should be heard and absorbed and acted upon.

Bibi added:

I ended up looking into a women’s hostel at one point in the last three years. I was in the situation where for ten years I was effectively homeless, moving around, displaced the whole time. I stayed on a stranger’s sofa - a man I’d never met before. That’s what my life had come to.

Melissa, Glass Door's senior comms manager, thanked Bibi for sharing her story, saying she hopes it encourages others to seek help. 

According to reports, rough sleeping has tripled in the last decade and Glass Door saw a surge of night shelter referrals by 42% in 2018-2019 from the previous year.

Sleeping Out to give others shelter

Bibi asked why someone should take part in the Sleep Out. Said Melissa:

You being there sends a message - it shows you care. You’re joining a community of people who care and there’s something rewarding about that. And then of course, the funds we raise do make a huge difference in people’s lives.

The Sleep Out helps raise vital funds to keep the night shelters running. In the 2019-2020 shelter season, the shelters will increase capacity from around 130 to around 175.

Eddie spoke about the importance of the night shelters and giving people hope:

"Someone was staying in the shelter and he told me he wanted to leave. I spoke to him for two hours. I asked him, ‘why don’t you try to go back to sleep? And if you don’t like it, don’t come back.’ He came back that night. Three weeks later he went into rehab, then he was clean 18 months and he’d never been able to do a day before. These little things, where we are able to give hope and give the belief that people can change."

Presenter Bibi Lynch has since signed up for the Sleep Out (her fundraising page is online) and is encouraging others to do the same. 

Listen to the full discussion below from 9:40 to 49:20.

Play a part in what we achieve by donating fundraising /volunteering. Read Eddie's Story. Or Join Bibi and hundreds of others at the Sleep Out