Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas on the floor.

For Robyn and me, Christmas isn’t working out very well for us; no Christmas cards sent, no presents, the decorations and the tree are stuck on the loft while my back and bronchitis are keeping me firmly on the ground floor.

On Wednesday evening Robyn dragged me down to her church in Isleworth and that takes quite some doing I can tell you, because I am not religious.

There are a lot of homeless people in West London and the state doesn’t do anything for single men. Behind the normal world there are people sleeping in the gaps, down the alleys, by the canal, in the parks, dodging the cold….struggling.

In the winter, the churches in West London take it in turns to offer shelter to the homeless so that on any given night there is somewhere to stay, if you need it.

This is the table at the door where you can stock up on razors and soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. It’s tough out there but here you can have your toe nails cut, take a wash, have a meal, get a bed for the night;

Us volunteers were there to cook, to serve the food, to have a chat and a laugh with the people who were staying for the night.

For me it was really nice; I spent my ‘working life’ representing vulnerable and homeless people and I always felt that it was a privilege to do so.

I was in good company; Pawel with his ‘Travis Bickell’ Mohican haircut straight from the movie ‘Taxidriver’ and a prison issue crucifix around his neck, John who walked from Edinburgh to London 22 years ago and never went back. A Polish banker who was a currency trader but lost his job when he lost his bank a load of money.

We shared a wonderful meal and played a couple of games of dominoes. We laughed.

Russians, Scots, English; homelessness has no prejudices.

I managed to dodge the prayers (I’m good at that) but we had a great evening with a wonderful bunch of people who reminded us how lucky we are.

I wonder where they are sleeping tonight…’s cold.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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