The walk is based on a distressing fact. For many forced to spend their nights on the street, it's actually very difficult to get your head down. You're either moved on by the police or private security, or you simply can't find a place that feels safe. For many rough sleepers, then, the night is spent wandering around in a half-asleep haze. You wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Tonight, teams and individuals will spend an evening in their shoes. Starting at midnight till five in the morning, volunteers will be walking a course that leads them around some of London's iconic sights. They'll also have the opportunity to meet with ex-homeless people who will be sharing their stories.
It's not too late to drop in a little bit of sponsorship to a volunteer team, and honestly every penny makes a difference–in surprising ways. £10, for example, can help a vendor get a birth certificate–a vital bit of ID that will make hostels accessible and gives them the opportunity to open a bank account and claim the support (including a pension) they are entitled to. Fifty quid will get them kitchen tools that are essential when moving into accommodation. Tiny amounts which can change lives.
The number of people that need help is on the rise. Last year the Big Issue Foundation helped 2000 people out of the hopeless spiral of homelessness, getting them the chance for a business and a renewal of hope. Almost a thousand of those were in London, one of the most prosperous cities in the world. This has to change.
This quote from Sam says it all:
“The day I started selling the magazine was the first day of the rest of my life. I now had a reason to get up in the morning. They helped me to find accommodation, helped refer me to agencies to sort out the other parts of my life and just a year ago they offered me a job. If I had stayed on the streets I’m sure I would have been dead by now.”
I'd like to highlight one volunteer team– Anna, Des and Emily. They're taking the late shift, working as Backwalkers. That means they're not just walking the equivalent of a half-marathon tonight, but they're bringing up the rear of the pack to make sure everyone is safe and healthy, and supporting 280 volunteers to complete the walk. That has to be worth a tenner of sponsorship, right? Here at the Pier, we're setting an example and putting our money where our mouth is. Good luck, ladies! Best foot forward!