From the archives: The life stories behind our former service users

Ron’s story:


Having gone from eating our food to distributing it himself, Ron knows Rhythms of Life better than most people who pass through our doors.

Shortly after our charity was founded, Ron, who was sleeping rough at the time, came to our attention. Over several years, Ron forged a close relationship with the team at Rhythms of Life, and learnt I.T. and financial management skills from our classes as he rebuilt his life.

Ron now lives in a council flat in Hackney. As recently as last year, Ron was a regular volunteer who collected food from our partners and prepared it for distribution.

 

Steve’s testimony:


“My name is Stevie, I’m 59 years old, and people say I look like Fagin from Oliver Twist. I don’t know if you agree.

“What keeps me going is my dog, which I found in a terrible condition. I feel less lonely because of him. He is my only real friend.

“Yes, I am homeless. It’s really hard to live like a normal person. You get used to living in the street and sleeping on the ground. I used to live in different countries and places like France, Germany, and Sweden – I was fluent in French and German when I was younger.

“I never expected to live like this. I just want to settle down. I want a bed to sleep in, a shower to wash myself, my own room and some food.

“Rhythms of Life help feed me, but I’m still miserable. If someone can help me get out of this situation, I would be so grateful.”

Jojo’s story:

“I first came across Rhythms of Life a year ago or so, I get meals here three times a week. Sometimes I get food from other charities too.

“I’ve been offered volunteering opportunities, but I prefer to look for paid work. I want to prove that I’m socially acceptable, and to improve my lot in society.

“It’s tough – I’m trying to find work as a driver, but I don’t get many hours at all. But, I won’t give up.

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Homelessness Reduction Bill Moves Closer to Law

Today, the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a private member’s bill put forward by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, passed its crucial third reading. The bill’s passages follows official figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government which show that the total number of rough sleepers on any given night in 2016 rose to 4,134, a 16% increase from 2015.

In response, Andrew Faris, chief executive of Rhythms of Life, and a former rough sleeper, said: “We welcome the cross-party consensus for Bob Blackman’s Homeless Reduction Bill which demonstrate that homelessness is a problem which transcends party politics.

“If this very important piece of legislation is passed then homeless people will no longer be told that their local council does not have a duty to prevent them from sleeping rough. This is an essential step in eradicating rough sleeping in the United Kingdom.

“I know from personal experience that homelessness destroys people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Homeless people are among the most vulnerable in our society, and it’s important that we work together to take on Britain’s homelessness crisis.

“However, given that the number of rough sleepers on our streets has more than doubled since 2010, and Local Authorities face a £192m funding gap by 2020, we’re appealing to the government to work more closely with charities in the sector to help rehabilitate rough sleepers, so that they can receive the support they need to rebuild their lives.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

Local authorities face £192m funding gap by 2020 according to LGA (page 7): http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/7991192/LGA+submission+to+the+Autumn+Statement+2016.pdf/ae76f5e3-7a8a-49a1-aeb0-67c4fcf61fef

New DCLG figures show rough sleeping rose by 16% in 2016: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38719087

Rhythms of Life is a homelessness charity which operates in Central London.

We provide sustenance, dignity and opportunity to London’s homeless. Every night of the year, our volunteers distribute meals, clothing and personal hygiene supplies to rough sleepers. We also help rough sleepers rebuild their lives by teaching literacy, numeracy and employability skills.

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Andrew Faris speaks to Reel2Real Talk about Rhythms of Life, London’s homelessness crisis, and his incredible life story

This week, Andrew Faris, founder and CEO of Rhythms of Life, spoke to Reel2Real Talk about how our charity was founded, homelessness in London, and his own experience of rough sleeping.


Check it out here: