When we are at a shelter that can't fit us all in (there are twenty five of us in all) nearly half of the men are taxied over to another church where they will sleep and have their breakfast. So one night last week some of us piled into two taxis and drove across Hackney to the church that would provide us all with a bed for the night and breakfast in the morning.
So we all filed in to a warm cup of tea and biscuits before we turned in. As we were going in at a rear door to the church we walked past a young woman who was trying to get comfy for the night.
She was a bit bolshie at first when she found out who we were, Let's face it you would be resentful of people who were getting a better deal than you. "You don't look very homeless to me,"
So over the course of a couple or three cigarettes I got to know more of her story.
- How she'd lived in Hackney her whole life.
- How she had a full-time job around the corner in a cafe and was struggling to keep it given her current plight. You try doing a customer service job after next-to-no sleep and no access to a bathroom!
- How she didn't have a phone.
- How when she had gone to the Homeless Person's Unit they had said to her: "I could refer you to the Night Shelter but that's full of junkies and alcoholics and they would probably just rob you."
So after our final cigarette together as I went in to my warm bed, I told her I would speak to the Hackney Winter Night Shelter people to see what they could do. I also said I would report her situation to the street rescue people; Streetlink. I assure you I asked this woman if all of this was OK with her and didn't just go blundering in, do-gooding!
So I phoned in to the street rescue people and told them of this woman's situation, who she was, where she was, what time she gets there, that kind of stuff.
I also emailed the Hackney Winter Night Shelter people who explained that the woman would need a referral from their various agencies before she could get in. I then dropped a note (in a sealed envelope) in to the woman's cafe to let her know what I had done with some contact numbers on it.
Where I left it with the street rescue people was that they would ring me if they made contact and got this woman housed. As yet I have heard nothing, I hope she is alright.
I'm alright, as I said I'm well looked after and I've got people speaking to Hackney council on my behalf and optimistic that something will get sorted out.
Update: I had an email this weekend from Streetlink; they have been out to look for this woman several times and drawn a blank. As I said, I do hope that she is alright