Bringing warmth and light to London's homeless

Bringing warmth and light to London's homeless
Dec 2022

Bringing warmth and light to London's homeless


(Photo: London City Mission)

This Winter, as progress to reduce homelessness is under threat of being undone, London City Mission is reaching out to the city's loneliest people to provide support, resources and community.
The winter Josef spent rough sleeping was the coldest winter he'd ever felt. "I found these air vents on the pavements, but by the morning I felt like a block of ice. I've never been so cold."
Josef moved to London from Scotland as a young man in 1976. London was the place of opportunity, and he got a flat, found a partner and settled down. Life was going well, but when his partner died, it all changed.
"When she died, I went downhill, I started drinking," he says. "I fell behind on my rent, got evicted. I ended up living on the streets.
"London's got everything, it's got parks, beautiful buildings. But it can be the loneliest place in the world."
This time of year, when London is lit up by Christmas lights, there are other rough sleepers like Josef who are searching for warmth and light of their own - such as a hot meal or someone to share a conversation with.
London City Mission's Webber Street day centre, based in Waterloo, supports people experiencing homelessness across the city. They are already doing even more this winter especially, as homelessness impacts more people. According to CHAIN, the number of people seen sleeping rough in the capital has increased by 21 per cent this year alone.
Josef came to Webber Street seven years ago where he found friendship among the staff and other guests. He received access to vital resources, hot breakfasts, clothing, warm surroundings and attended the daily Bible studies.
"They care, you know. They genuinely care about you," he says. "Within three minutes they helped me to get my pension credits which I didn't know you had to do online.
"Webber Street offers a place we can get an address, you can get your mail sent here, you can keep in touch with people. It offers a lot of activities for everybody, there's something for everybody here."
One of the friends he made was Sally, a project worker at Webber Street.
She says, "I invited him to my church where he came to know the one who is the greatest friend - Jesus."
Tomorrow, thousands of people on London's streets will wake up cold and alone. Each of them has a painful story. Many have faced loss and rejection. All will wake up to the reality of homelessness.
Josef has found community and the love of Christ that gives him strength. He now has a studio flat near the Webber Street Centre and remains a regular guest.
London City Mission has launched a Christmas appeal to help support people with similar stories to Josef, to be there to help, give advice and practical support and share the life-changing good news of Jesus. To support Webber Street's Christmas appeal, visit www.lcm.org.uk/Christmas.