Rhythms of Life 12 Days of Christmas

Rhythms of Life 12 Days of ChristmasAt Rhythms of Life of life, we are busy planning our annual 12 Days of Christmas Event. Running from 22nd December through to 2nd January, we welcome our homeless friends into a safe and warm environment for a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and Christmas dinner. We also offer a Snooze Room to relax in, movie nights with popcorn, and plenty of warm winter clothing, sleeping bags, and toiletries. During this chilly, and often lonely, holiday period, our annual event really does make all the difference to our homeless friends of London.

This year we celebrate our 10th year of helping London’s homeless and we would like to make this Christmas really special. To make this happen, we urgently need a Central London venue where we can hold our 12-day event. If you can offer us, or know of, any space which we can use over the Christmas period, please get in touch with us at volunteer@rhythmsoflife.org.uk. We are also looking volunteers to help with catering, entertainment, and welcoming our guests. If you can spare a few days over Christmas to help those less fortunate, please contact us at the above email address.

Since Rhythms of Life was founded in 2008, we have seen a drastic increase in the rise of homelessness in Central London, especially in the last 12 months. Recent government statistics state the number of rough sleepers in London has increased to 1,137, an 18% rise. However, as a grass roots charity, we are in contact with our homeless and vulnerable friends on a daily basis and believe that the true level of homelessness is much higher. The separate Chain database, which records rough sleepers in London seen by outreach workers, reported 8,108 rough sleepers in June. Meanwhile, the local authorities of the London borough of Camden posted a 647% increase in rough sleepers.

World Homeless Day 2018: Real Life Stories

World Homeless day gives us the opportunity to reflect on homelessness overall and motivates individuals to contribute and make a real difference, in order to achieve social justice.

As the colder months are approaching, we engaged with people who were made homeless this year to hear their stories.

Craig, 31

About eight months ago my precious daughter passed away due to critical illness. It was a very difficult time during that period, especially after my partner leaving me.

I went into depression – consuming alcohol quite often, which led me to losing both my job and my flat. I wasn’t able to cope and began drinking too much.

I put alcohol first; needs second.

I have been homeless for two or three months. I was living in supported accommodation, but my benefits were stopped because I missed an appointment. I didn’t even know I had one. I couldn’t pay my rent and got evicted.

People have robbed and chased me, just disrespected me for no good reason while I’ve been in pain and it’s not fair.

I never think about the future at all. I’m still living in the past, thinking about my girl.

Nathan, 19

The current system isn’t created for homeless people. Everyone is scared and living in an atmosphere of fear.

I’ve been homeless now for under a year after leaving a domestic violence shelter. I left home because of my violent father and the shelter was really my only choice.

Once the care order finished, I was given just £35 to start a new life. That was it. Once I’d bought food for the week, I had nothing. I walk up and down the high streets looking for anything.

I went to the JobCentre and they basically forced me to sign a job agreement, but what employer is going to take you if you’re on the streets?

Imran, 40

I’ve been on the streets for four months now. Some nights I’m lucky enough to sleep on a friend’s couch or in a tent for shelter. I must admit, it’s been horrible. Different people on nights out have urinated on me while I was sleeping in a doorway; all I was doing was trying to keep warm.

However there are some people on the streets who tend to take care of each other. It’s like a small street family really, but I still feel lonely.

Now I’m currently waiting to get into a hostel so I can seek employment after.

Hussain, 27

I had a lot of financial problems because any money I did get was going on heroin. Eventually I was so broke that I ended up living on the streets. I suffer from bad social anxiety, which means that I was scared to talk to anyone. It’s hard to trust anyone – I’m just too anxious. I couldn’t contact any of the agencies that might have been able to help me, including the benefits agency.

Then one day I began to get very bad stomach pains. I thought it was withdrawal symptoms, so I kept taking more and more. Then one day I just collapsed, with blood coming out my mouth, out my nose – blood everywhere.

I was taken to hospital and they said that I had a stomach ulcer that burst. People in the hospital directed me to social services and the Drug Intervention Team. I attended a few group sessions, but I never really talked to anyone.

Now I still have nobody and I’m struggling on the streets with my addiction.

John, 52

After my Dad passed away last year, I ended up living in a tower block in London with a friend. I moved in with him, but after a while we fell out and I couldn’t find anywhere else to go. I started traveling and squatting all over the place.

When I was in London I started taking drugs. That really stopped me sorting my life out and finding a place. I was also looking for a job to feed myself.

I ended up being homeless on the streets on and off. I would sleep rough for a few weeks or a month at a time. I served a few months in prison this year for minor crimes, but I would usually end up on the streets again as when I got out I had nowhere to live. Sometimes I think going back is the better option.

Some names have been changed.

By Christopher Haroun

When there’s no safe place to sleep

When there’s no safe place to sleep, Jenny Holzer, 1984. This artwork currently on display as a part of a free Artist Rooms exhibition of Jenny Holzer’s work at the Tate Modern until 31 July 2019. It captures the essence of what it’s like to be homeless.

Government homeless strategy too optimistic

We have seen a drastic increase in the rise of homelessness in Central London over the past 10 years, especially in the last 12 months.

We have found that a contributory factor to this is the recent housing benefit restrictions on young people. If they are no longer able to claim housing benefit, then they are no longer able to pay their rent, which inevitably leads to homelessness. For numerous reasons they are notable to turn to family for help including domestic violence, abuse and family break ups amongst others.

We feel that the Government’s new homeless strategy is incredibly optimistic, although it is good to look to the future and plan ahead, we still need to tackle the problem now.

Homelessness is rising day by day, everyday we see our homeless friends deteriorating despite all the help we give. We alone can only do so much to help them survive. The problem is much bigger and without immediate government backing the rise in homelessness will only grow.

Also, with winter approaching the problems that our homeless friends face will only become greater. We need to find a solution sooner before it is too late.

Thank you for remembering Simon Day

Simon DaySimon Day

On behalf of all at Rhythms of life we would again like to thank Simon’s parents Andrew and Pauline Day for kindly asking for donations to our charity in his memory.
Furthermore, another thank you to the mourners who generously donated in his memory, raising in total a huge £640.00.

The financial donations we have received in memory of Simon will enable us to continue our essential work, providing food, clothing and toiletries to those who need it most, 365 days of the year in Old Street and Central London.
In addition, it will allow us to offer educational classes, to equip people with employable skills so they can find employment and turn their lives around.

Unfortunately Simon’s story is far too common. The number of homeless people in London continues to rise, resulting in more people coming to rely on our services.
However, our essential work cannot happen without these donations. This is why we are so very grateful to those who have donated in memory of Simon Day.

Invisible: a film by Arthur Cauty


Inspired by a conversation with a newly homeless man who described how he was set on fire in his sleep, before thanking Arthur Cauty and his girlfriend for taking the time to talk to him and listen to his story, rather than simply ignore him. The short film is a portrait of Bristol’s homeless; a voice for those we often pretend are invisible.

Ed Scott raises over £2,600 in London Marathon

Ed Scott running the 2018 London Marathon for Rhythms of Life

Ed Scott, a long time supporter of Rhythms of Life, ran the London Marathon this April and raised £2,644.70 for the charity. Despite nurs3ing several injuries and not having ran long distance races for more than 15 years, he managed to reach the finishing post in 6 hours 25 minutes and 47 sec, placed at 3903 within his category and 37904 overall.

We greatly appreciate Ed’s brilliant effort in raising the money that will go towards helping many people living on the streets of London.
 


 

If you’d like to fund raise for Rhythms of Life by participating in a sponsored challenge email us at info@rhythmsoflife.org.uk or visit our donations page for more information.

Remembering Simon Day

Simon Day was born in Leytonstone in 1973. Unfortunately circumstances in Simon’s life resulted in him living on the streets last year, in Southend-on- Sea, Essex. Thankfully at Christmas, Simon was kindly offered a place to sleep and live in a permanent residence, which he accepted. These last few weeks spent off the streets would sadly be Simon’s last and he died on the 1 March 2018 at the age of 44.

Simon Day

Simon’s parents, Andy and Pauline, have generously asked that donations are given in place of flowers at Simon’s funeral and have asked that these donations be given to Rhythms of Life. Andy and Pauline chose our charity as they wanted the donations to go to an organisation that helps people who, like Simon, are affected by homelessness and the associated issues that arise from this.

Rhythms of Life are extremely grateful to Andy and Pauline for this very kind offer in what must be a very distressing time for the family. We would like to offer our sincere condolences and reaffirm that all the money donated will go towards combating homelessness in Simon’s home town of London.

Simon’s funeral will be held on 26 April 2018 at Southend Crematorium at 3pm.

If you would like to donate in Simon’s name then please send donations to: Tanners Funeral Services, 29 East Street, Prittlewell, Southend on Sea, Essex SS26LH. Phone 01702 618358

Zoltán running the Edinburgh marathon for Rhythms of Life!

running in the London Marathon

A former volunteer of ours, Zoltan, will be running the Edinburgh marathon on May 27th for Rhythms of Life! An avid runner, Zoltan has run seven marathons and fourteen half-marathons so far. Zoltan has volunteered with us from 2010-2011. As a previous volunteer Zoltan choose to support our charity because he has seen the impact we make in the local community. From everyone here at Rhythms of Life, we wish Zoltan the best of luck and all the support on his big run!

To read more about his run and to support him and our charity please visit his JustGiving page here

Our founder interviewed by the Huffington Post

Last week our founder Andrew Faris was interviewed by the Huffington post on the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol. The article looks to discuss whether or not the British government was well-equipped enough to handle the flow of London’s rough sleepers into shelters during the early March snow storm. Many of the rough sleepers who were interviewed for the piece said they struggled to find a shelter that didn’t turn them away.

The article raised questions over the government’s long-term ability to handle the number of rough sleepers on London’s streets during the winter. However, the piece did point to the app StreetLink as a hopeful initiative to helping London’s rough sleepers. Nevertheless, the article, in the end, commended the work of the British people who showed that they too could help with even the smallest gestures, such a buying a rough sleeper a sandwich.

To read the article and watch out CEO Andrew Faris discuss this issue, please click here.