Glass Door Homeless Charity: A Lifeline for Those in Need

Glass Door Homeless Charity: A Lifeline for Those in Need

Lucy Abraham

The Glass Door Homeless Charity provides night shelters, life-changing advice and practical support for rough sleepers in West London

‘I’ve only recently joined Glass Door, so our annual fundraising sleep-out in October was my first,’ recalls Chief Operating Officer, Lucy Abraham. ‘It was just one night in a safe environment with tea and biscuits on tap and, afterwards, I could go back to my warm bed. The contrast with the reality for those sleeping rough every night this winter was stark. The experience really hit home to me.’

Operating in West London, the Glass Door Homeless Charity runs London’s largest open-access network of emergency winter shelters and support services. ‘The key to our ethos is that we welcome men and women of all races, religions and social circumstances,’ says Lucy. ‘We don’t need official referrals, we keep bureaucracy to a minimum and, while we use churches (all denominations) as our night
shelters, there’s no proselytisation.

‘Every night this winter (from November to April) we’ll be able to host 130 people who would otherwise be on the streets. While the scope of what we do extends far beyond the provision of emergency shelters, they are the immediate safety net for those in need.’

Glass Door’s roots date back to 1996 when a group of Chelsea residents, concerned for the welfare of rough sleepers, produced cards giving information about local services. Over time, more practical assistance was organised and, in 1999, night shelters were opened in seven churches, one to host guests each night of the week in rotation. This operation was Hammersmith, Fulham and Richmond and partnerships with existing day-support centres.

‘Two trained members of our staff are on duty all night at every shelter,’ explains Lucy. ‘They are supported by volunteers who cook our guests a three-course meal and sit and eat with them. There is a mat for everyone and all new arrivals are given a sleeping bag to keep. In the morning, breakfast is served and information given about day centres and our casework team. The process is about treating everyone with dignity and building trust and friendship.’

Glass Door has a rule that no-one can stay in its shelters for more than two years. ‘That’s because we want our guests to engage with us in finding permanent housing solutions,’ confirms Lucy. ‘Our caseworkers work with them year-round to overcome challenges – that could be physical issues, addiction or something as simple as a lost or stolen ID – and help with appointments, paperwork and getting into employment.

‘People end up on the streets for many reasons: the loss of a job, mental illness, the breakdown of a relationship, the death of a parent or partner. Whatever the cause, we’re committed to providing them with shelter and offering a route out of homelessness.’

During the winter of 2017/18, 643 individuals aged 18-83 found shelter in 29 churches in the Glass Door network. Between June 2017 and April 2018, 80 Glass Door guests found work and 188 moved into housing.

Glass Door receives no statutory funding. All its income is provided by private and corporate donations, trusts and foundations. This winter the charity is raising £41,860 to help fund its work. If you can help, please follow the donate link on the website.

Glass Door Homeless Charity
155a Kings Road, SW3 5TX

Glass Door Homeless Charity
155a Kings Road, SW3 5TX

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