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On the streets and homeless for Christmas

Property prices in London’s premier housing market continue to soar, but thousands of less fortunate people are facing life on the streets for Christmas.


One leading London Charity will be providing winter shelters for hundreds of people who will find themselves out on the streets in the coming weeks.


Last year, Glass Door helped John move into a flat of his own just before Christmas. “I spent Christmas day cooking a meal and doing the normal things in life that people take for granted,” he said. “It was the best Christmas I ever had.”


Unlike most winter shelters, Glass Door will remain open throughout the festive period. Over the course of the Christmas week, 14 churches will open their doors, about 200 volunteers will decorate the shelters, 840 dinners will be shared around communal tables, and 200 gifts will be distributed. Many of the homeless guests will have meetings with caseworkers to help them find a way off the streets.


John worked as a butcher in Fulham (the same borough where he was born) for most of his adult life. He left London when he was in his fifties to care for his parents who had fallen ill. After they died, John was at a loss for what to do next. He moved back to London and slept rough on and off for five years.



John gave up on getting help when none of the London boroughs wanted to accept responsibility for helping him. His mental and physical health deteriorated to the point where he tried to commit suicide twice.

“I got depressed and so down,” John said while speaking at the Glass Door volunteer party.  “Living on the street, it does affect you. It’s going to shorten your life.” 

After gaining John’s trust, a Glass Door caseworker convinced both outreach workers and John to work together, ultimately leading to John ending his chapter of homelessness.

“Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year for men and women who don’t have a home,” says Steven Platts, Glass Door Chief Operating Officer. “At Glass Door, guests find a sense of community, a place where they can rebuild self-esteem and find trust. The shelters and the community volunteers and staff create give them a bit of hope and stability over the holidays,” he says.



As London’s largest emergency winter night shelter, Glass Door accommodates up to 100 people a night. Now in its 16th year, the shelters are run in partnership with churches across West London that open their doors to provide a space for men and women to find shelter and warmth throughout the winter. Homeless guests of Glass Door have access to showers, laundry, medical care, second-hand clothing, and -- crucially for John and others – advice from trained caseworkers.


It costs Glass Door £11,128 to keep their shelters open over the Christmas week. The charity needs almost £23 to cover the costs of one night’s stay. To help make sure costs are met, Glass Door has launched their Christmas campaign asking for donations to help bring shelter and hope to their guests.


Find out more about how Glass Door helped John, and how they are giving back hope to the men and women they call “our guests,” over Christmas and throughout the year, at 


Those who are considering donating can give online via the Glass Door Christmas campaign or can send a cheque payable to "Glass Door" marked "Shelter & Hope" on the back and post with a Christmas Giving/Gift Aid form.

The Westminster News is part of Sketch News Group 2015 ©